Terlebih dahulu, saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk merakamkan ucapan penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada pihak penganjur atas kesudian mengundang saya hadir dan seterusnya menyempurnakan Majlis Penyerahan Cek kepada Sekolah-sekolah Bantuan Khas dan Badan-badan Bukan Islam di kawasan Sandakan pada malam ini. 


Sesungguhnya, majlis ini merupakan majlis yang sangat penting dan membuktikan bahawa Kerajaan Barisan Nasional sememangnya komited dalam memastikan institusi pendidikan di negeri ini termasuklah sekolah-sekolah bantuan khas dapat melaksanakan agenda pendidikan masing-masing dengan sempurna.


Kerajaan BN Negeri turut memberi perhatian terhadap pembangunan keagamaan dalam kalangan Badan-badan Bukan Islam di negeri ini.  Oleh itu, Kerajaan Negeri juga menyediakan peruntukan khusus kepada Badan-badan Bukan Islam yang juga berperanan secara langsung dalam membantu perkembangan pendidikan sekolah-sekolah bantuan khas.


I am honoured to be here with all of you at this very important event that will see the Sabah State Government handing over financial aid to schools and non Islamic religious bodies in Sandakan. I am pleased that the State Government is able to make a contribution every year to schools that need assistance, and to religious bodies for them to cover some expenses and run programmes.


The fact that the Barisan Nasional backed Government is continuously helping schools shows our commitment in making sure that education institutions in the State are able to implement their teaching and learning agendas effectively. The BN Government is also aware of the important role of non Islamic religious bodies, some of which are directly involved in the development of special assitance schools.


It should be noted that the State Government has on a yearly basis increased the allocation for special assistance schools throughout Sabah including Sandakan.  As you are aware special assstance schools comprise Chinese independent secondary schools, Conforming school, national type Chinese schools as well as mission schools and kindergardents. In 2008, such schools received RM8 million, compared to RM7.879 in 2007 and in 2009 the State Government increased that figure to RM10 million. Last year, similar type schools in Sandakan received RM1.53 million from the State Govenrment for repairs, upgrading and to fund their development projects. 


Today, I am pleased to announce to the people of Sandakan that government assistance for such schools in Sandakan has again been increased to a total of RM1.62 million.  Of the figure, RM490,000 is in the form of grants, including a RM230,000 grant for Chinese independent secondary schools. The highest amount for the purpose of development projects and repairs has been allocated to Chinese schools, which will get RM700,000 of the total amount of RM1.62 million. We are also paying attention to the needs of children at pre-schools, and it is for this reason, RM210,000 of the total allocation will go to repairing kindergartens.


Despite pressing needs for funds for a host of other socio-economic programmes, the State Government has decided that education is vital to the growth of the nation and must be developed. For this to happen, schools must continue to receive some allocation in their on-going efforts to achieve excellence.


I must stress here that the BN Government will always work towards helping schools in Sabah so that children will get the best education. We are also paying attention to schools in rural areas, and to the performance of pupils and students who live in remote locations. I would like to give the public an assurance that we will continue to help schools in the State, and this includes improving facilities.


Sabah is growing in line with national aspirations to achieve a developed nation status by 2020. For this to happen, we need a knowledgeable work force, and one that is highly skilled and able to adapt quickly to changes. Kindergartens and schools are essential in the process of creating adults who are able to think on their feet, and come up with creative and innovative ideas.


There are a number of institutes of higher learning in Malaysia, and here in Sandakan, we are in the process of developing an education hub. I must take this opportunity to encourage students in Sandakan to study hard and take up tertiary level courses. You no longer have to travel far in order to secure a higher education, and it is up to school leavers to grab opportunities that will eventually be available at the Sandakan education hub.


It is my hope that the allocation from the Government that will be given out shortly will be used in the best possible way to implement programmes and activities that will enhance the quality of education in the respective schools.


The BN Government is also paying attention to spiritual development in Sabah. Non Islamic religious bodies in Sandakan will get RM2.54 million of which RM1.09 million will go to repairs and RM350,000 to development. Of the total sum of RM2.54 million, Chinese temples will get RM1.39 million, while RM1.1 million will be allocated to churches. A sum of RM50,000 will be given to Hindu temples.


Allocations for non Islamic religious bodies is reflective of the BN Government’s pledge to uphold religious freedom. We hope religious bodies will continue to encourage spiritual development among the people, especially in this day and age where social ills seem to be on the rise. The Government believes that to have outstanding personalities, the people must also have spiritual virtues, which promote values such as helping those in need and spreading kindness. 


In conclusion, It is my hope that schools and religious bodies in Sandakan that are receiving allocations today will be able to carry out their programmes and activities successfully. Spend your allocations wisely, for the betterment of our education and religious institutions. 

Thank you.