Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last night assured that Sarawak would get more value-added development, and thanked Sarawak for its continuous support for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Although Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has thanked the federal government for the progress and development since the formation of Malaysia 45 years ago, Abdullah said it was Peninsular Malaysia which must thank the state for its loyalty.

He said this at a state dinner at Dewan Undangan Negeri banquet hall held in connection with the Malaysian BN Representatives’ Wives Annual Programme.

“Tan Sri Taib said thank you to us but I must say this: You may thank us for whatever little things that we have done for you, but I have to thank Sarawak for not forgetting the BN,” he said.

In this respect, Abdullah, who is the national BN chairman, assured the state that the federal government would give it more development projects to raise the quality of life of the people even more.

The dinner was organised by the Association for Wives of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (Bakti) and Sarawak Welfare and Charity Body of Ministers and Deputy Ministers’ Wives (Sabati) as the host.

Abdullah said Bakti members should continue to be active even in states where the Barisan Nasional was not in power.

He said they should continue to work for the welfare of the people regardless of race and religion.

Earlier, Taib said Sarawakians felt offended when rumours surfaced that some of the state Barisan Nasional (BN) members were contemplating hopping to other parties for the sake of positions and other benefits.

“Sarawak people may have been poor at one time but I can tell you that we cannot be bought and we will not hop blindly when other people ask us to do so,” said Taib, who is the chairman of the state BN.

“I can assure the prime minister that the people of Sarawak will never forget what the BN leadership has done for our state.”

In pointing out that the state had launched the 45th anniversary celebration of the formation of Malaysia on July 22, he said that after all these years, Sarawakians felt fortunate to be citizens of Malaysia.

He said that there were lots of reasons for Sarawakians to be thankful, but in a nutshell, it was because through Malaysia the state was lifted to a level that was most satisfactory today. Taib said the progress that Sarawak enjoyed was due to the leadership of all five prime ministers of Malaysia.

Speaking as one who was involved in the struggle to form Malaysia during the time of ‘Perikatan,’ he pointed out that the main objective of the prime ministers was always to improve the lives of the people.

“If you listen to Tunku (Abdul Rahman) and Tun Razak’s speeches all around, they were all about abolishing poverty and raising our people to a respectable position.

“We have achieved that today. We are respected. We have reached that level because it is our tradition to fight for the rakyat.

“Recently, there have been parties trying to champion the poor but we have already been doing so for more than 45 years for our people.”

Present at the dinner were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Bakti president Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, Sabati president Datuk Amar Puan Sri Laila Taib, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Utama Mohamad Hassan.