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SIBU: The walkabout of Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Sibu Central Market, where he met and chatted with the traders and patrons, truly reflected the prime minister's 1Malaysia concept and his desire to feel the pulse of the people.
Even though it was his third visit to the riverine town's popular iconic venue, Najib brought cheer to the local people, drawn from various ethnic communities, who gave him a rousing welcome.
In February and May of 2010, the prime minister had also visited the central market, reputed to be the largest in the country with some 1,100 regular stalls and between 200 and 250 "tamu" or stalls of the native hawkers comprising the Iban, Malay, Melanau and others.
Carpenter Peter Lansong, who had forked out RM17 for an express boat fare for the two-hour trip from Song, had his wish to meet up with the prime minister fulfilled.
"I am very proud to have shaken hands with the country's Number One leader because he has done so much for the people," the father of five, a recipient of the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), told Bernama.
Farid Iskandar Cafe owner Sabtuyah Omar, 43, whose stall is one of the five which offers the 1Malaysia People's Menu, said she felt honoured to have sat for breakfast together with Najib and Sarawak leaders including Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
The prime minister's comment was "sedap" (tasty), she said with pride. The cafe had offered local fare, including the Sarawak Malay "kuih bungkol", Foochow "kompia" bun, "kuih selorot", "sesa panjang", which is traditionally smoked prawns to be eaten with "sago" pellets and "roti canai".
The mother of five also took the opportunity to personally thank Najib as she and her family members were recipients of the RM500 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), RM200 book vouchers and 1Malaysia netbook. Her house is located close to the 1Malaysia People's Clinic (KR1M) here.
Najib also sampled a glass of the local black coffee, said Sabtuyah. She also said that the prime minister promised to look into a request of the Sibu Central Market Hawkers' Association to upgrade the existing facilities, including the installation of additional fans at the market.
Another hawker, Chia Sing Kong, 49, said she was happy to have been greeted by the prime minister during each of his three visits to the central market. Today, a 3,000-strong crowd waited eagerly to shake hands with him.