The “Kembara Kenali Borneo” tour is a dream come true for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah in getting to know Malaysians living in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.

The first-ever tour by a head of state is a golden opportunity for the people of both states to meet the royal couple and their entourage.

The “Kembara Kenali Borneo” from Sept 3 to 13, starting in Tawau, Sabah and ending in Telok Melano, Sarawak, will record a historic moment and unique experience of a host of programmes rich in customs, culture and tribal handicrafts scheduled with the people, according to the King’s wishes.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) aide-de-camp to the King, Brigadier-General Datuk Mohamed Zahari Yahya, who is also the chief operations officer of “Kembara Kenali Borneo”, said numerous programmes have been arranged to enable the royal couple to engage with the people at morning or farmers markets, which are synonymous with the local communities and visit sites of unique natural beauty.

“These are not programmes suggested by the people of Sabah and Sarawak. His Majesty himself requested to visit selected locations…and take the opportunity to see other places (in Sabah and Sarawak).

“Basically the thoughts came from Their Majesties….in fact, His Majesty also stated his intention to donate to the needy,” he told reporters at Istana Negara, recently.

Mohamed Zahari said the royal couple also wished to sample the culinary delights of Sabah and Sarawak and savour the experience of driving along the Pan Borneo Highway on their own, as mentioned during his Royal address for the opening of Parliament, in February this year.

He said the tour is significant due to its timing right after the National Day and leading up to Malaysia Day on Sept 16 and because the King is also the symbol of unity for Malaysia’s multiracial citizens.

“We are of the opinion that with this tour, His Majesty will definitely help to strengthen the ties among the people and unity in Malaysia, particularly among the multi-racial communities,” he said.

The “Kembara Kenali Borneo” expedition will span 2,154 kilometres through the Pan Borneo Highway which connects Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

In addition to Tawau, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong are scheduled to stopover in Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Telupid, Ranau, Kundasang, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Sipitang, Sabah and Lawas in Sarawak from Sept 3 to 7 before visiting Brunei for three days.

The entourage will then resume from Miri on Sept 9 and participate in drumming and sports activities and be feted to local feasts at Pantai Bungai Bekenu, before moving on to Bintulu, Tatau, Sibu, Sri Aman, Kuching and reaching the final destination at Telok Melano in Sarawak.

“The Raja Permaisuri Agong said she wished to see handicrafts made by local people,” he said, adding that the royal couple will be visiting handicraft centres in Penampang, Sabah and Miri, Sarawak, among others.

Mohamed Zahari said the Queen will also be participating in community cooking activities, which she had requested.

“Based on the itinerary so far, the two places for the cooking activities are in Lahad Datu, Sabah and Rumah Panjang Raymond Plen in Bintulu, Sarawak. God-willing, the locals will be able to taste Her Majesty’s cooking,” he said.

Mohamed Zahari said the Federal government as well as the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak are cooperating with Istana Negara to ensure the tour goes smoothly.

“On behalf of Istana Negara, I wish to say thank you and express the highest appreciation to everyone involved for their full cooperation in helping to make Their Majesties’ dream come true, especially Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, the Sabah state government and the Sarawak state government,” he said.

The Sabah and Sarawak state governments will also be hosting dinner receptions for the King and Queen in Kota Kinabalu on Sept 6 and in Kuching on Sept 12.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency