Tiang (fifth right) officiates at the event as others look on.
SIBU (June 18): The government has always adopted a balanced development approach that gives equal emphasis to both economic growth and the wellbeing of the people, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Sarawak Premier explained that the term ‘wellbeing’ is generally associated with a standard of living and quality of life that encompasses economic, social, physical and psychological aspects, and is beneficial for the society.
In Malaysia, these aspects are manifested in quality healthcare, affordable housing, improved public security and safety, enhanced emergency services, greater social integration and unity, as well as widespread participation in sports, he said.
“The government’s allocation of RM399 million in the revised Budget 2023 to the Youth and Sports Ministry saw a significant increase over the RM289 million allocated last year. This budget saw the sports industry receiving an extra RM110 million from the government, where a significant amount of RM324 million is for training programmes and sports facilities for all athletes and para-athletes.
“The administration will also provide RM20 million to focus on unity programmes in sports, culture, and arts at school and community levels. In addition, the government will provide matching funds of RM50 million to encourage the private sector’s sponsorship for sports programmes, especially for unity-based sports, and for competitions at the national level,” he said in his speech at the launch of the “Rakyat Sihat, Sarawak Makmur” Run at Sibu Town Square Phase 1 here today.
Abang Johari’s text-of-speech was read by Deputy Minister II of Public Health, Local Government and Housing Michael Tiang.
The “Rakyat Sihat, Sarawak Makmur” run was organised in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Sarawak being a founding partner to the formation of Malaysia.
Adding on, Abang Johari said that a healthy nation is always a wealthy nation.
“A healthy population is a powerful catalyst for economic growth as it promotes economic growth by expanding the labour force and by boosting productivity while also delivering immense social benefits.
“On the other hand, poor population health is not just bad for the individuals affected. It (also) impacts adversely on national productivity and prosperity, and increases pressures on health services, which are already struggling to cope with the growing demands of an increasingly unhealthy population, and the challenge of recovering from the backlogs in care exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Noting that sports are important in promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, Abang Johari said sports and other physical activities need to be made more accessible, making it easier for the people to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
He believed that promoting mass participation in sports at all levels of the society like the run organised today will instil a sports culture, enhance social integration and unity among Malaysians.
“Most importantly, Malaysians of all backgrounds will share the same platform to engage with one another, and to come together as one community, united through a common goal and commitment for nation building.
“Sarawak is notable for its richness in diversity and cultural activities, and the state government is committed to ensure that the prevailing unity and harmony are preserved and also become a model for others.
“As such, the Sarawak government will collaborate with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to further enhance the concept of unity in the development of sports within the communities.
“Nelson Mandela said in 2000: ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does’.
“In fact, no other social activity brings people together in such great numbers, and with so much passion and enjoyment.
“Regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, sports are enjoyed by all; its reach is unrivalled. More importantly though, sports promote universal values that transcend language and culture.
“It is a universal language which brings people together, irrespective of their origins, background, religious beliefs or economic standing,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than 2,400 runners took part in the event which started at 7.40am.
Among those present were organising chairman Temenggong Dato Vincent Lau, Deputy State Secretary Datu Hii Chang Kee, Sibu Resident Wong Hee Sieng, Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting, Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng and Senator Robert Lau.