SANDAKAN: The affectionate, gentle and generous nature of Sabahans is one of the main reasons Malaysians from other states are drawn to live in Sabah.
So, it comes as no surprise that some end up falling in love with the Land Below the Wind and even find their life partners here as well.
“The fond memories of my time in Sabah are when I was dating my then wife-to-be, who is from Sandakan. We now have two children, and before I knew it, it has been 28 years,” said businessman Kelvin Kong, 53, from Sibu, Sarawak.
Kong said he has countless beautiful memories of Sabah and the most memorable was when he met his wife because, from that moment, he came to know and love Sabah more.
“Sabahans are friendly, soft-spoken and charming. Sabah is also blessed with incomparable natural wonders such as Mount Kinabalu, the Crocker Range, islands, beaches, clear rivers and amazing wildlife. It makes me want to live here forever,” he added.
Kong opined that Malaysians are generally good and peace-loving people and that an equal division of wealth to a developing state like Sabah can strengthen unity.
Abdul Rahim Harun, 33, a security forces personnel and father of two from Melaka, also met his match in Sabah but fell in love with the state much earlier when he was posted there for work in 2011 as it was a perfect place for his hobby of hiking.
“There are many amazing mountains and hills for hiking – all the more when you have a partner to enjoy it with. Now even our children are hooked on hiking,” he said, adding that his wife is from Sandakan and he met her in 2015.
Abdul Rahim said his life has been better since moving to Sabah because he finds the people more affectionate, kind and generous. Despite the diverse ethnic groups, it is easy to mingle with them and even enjoy their traditional cuisine.
Ramlah Bakar, 39, a teacher from Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, is also captivated by the multi-racial and multi-cultural lifestyle in Sabah, where people live as one big family regardless of their differences, which makes it comfortable for other communities to accept their way of living.
“Unity does not recognise place, background, culture and economic status. We must complement each other to celebrate the integration of multiple cultures, only then can we fortify economic and political stability,” she said.
Ramlah has been working in Sabah for 13 years and loves the cultural aspects of the state and its very approachable people.
She said the amiable communities encouraged her to explore the entire state, making her experiences even more unique and meaningful while appreciating the spell-binding natural beauty which never bore her.
It feels like being in my hometown, said Syamsuddin Kahar, 38, a soldier from Pontian, Johor, who has been living in Tuaran for about five years after being posted there.
“It was difficult for me to adapt initially because their way of life is different, especially for me as a Bugis from Johor. But over time, I discovered many things in common with the Bajau Saman ethnic group in Tuaran and also Bugis in Tawau.
“It makes me feel at home,” he said, adding that both the Bugis and Bajau Samah people are skilled sailors and horsemen.
He said in addition to similarities in culture and way of life, he truly appreciates the friendly and affectionate nature of Sabahans, who easily welcome outsiders as part of their family, as it helps ease his homesickness for his family in the peninsula. – Bernama