KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Najib Razak has vowed to carry on the government’s effort to close the development gap between Sabah and the peninsula through continued democratisation of education.
“If we want to elevate a race and a nation, it must be done through education because when we have education, we are stronger.
“To close the development gap between Sabah and the peninsula, what is needed is to educate the people through the democratisation of education,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Smart Teaching Hospital here today.
He said democratising education would mean providing a wider range of quality education for all, including giving Sabah a university.
This, he said, had been his emphasis ever since his time as education minister.
It was Najib who had announced, as education minister in 1995, the government’s approval to build the UMS campus on 999 acres of land.
Najib said the federal government had also allocated RM1 billion for Sabah to replace dilapidated rural schools and build new schools.
“I saw schools in Sabah and Sarawak which are falling apart and I thought to myself, the people deserve more. We are doing this because we want a continuum from the grassroots up to the higher education level – all our students are cared for.”
He said in charting the future of the nation and its youths, now was not the time or place to play politics or spew empty promises.
Instead, the government has the solemn responsibility to become the architect and implementer of a modern and progressive Malaysia.
“My commitment as the prime minister is to develop Sabah to a better future. If someone who became a prime minister for 22 years didn’t do anything for Sabah, let me be the prime minister to do it,” he said, alluding to former prime minister and current opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
On the UMS hospital, Najib said the RM652 million first teaching hospital in Borneo would become an iconic project, benefiting not just the students but also the public.
Construction is expected to take three years. The hospital is scheduled for completion in 2021, with a capacity of 400 beds.
The hospital will be equipped with the latest healthcare technology as well as facilities for teaching, learning and research in medicine and related fields.