KUCHING: The Gawai celebration in Sarawak is a timely reminder that Malaysia is a nation of many races and cultures who should come together for the common goal of unity in diversity, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said.
The 1Malaysia Foundation trustee said Sarawak was a model of what the people could do to bring about greater unity and promote moderation.
“When it comes to promoting integration among the people, Sarawak is a good example. There are over 40 ethnic groups in the state and yet everyone can interact with one another.
“The 1Malaysia Foundation is happy to see Sarawak as a good example, hence we came up with the idea to make Kuching a City of Unity (in 2015),” he told a press conference in conjunction with the Gawai festival here.
Lee called on Malaysians to start accepting one another as fellow countrymen regardless of race or religion and be proud of identifying themselves as Malaysians first.
“I always believe that being a Malaysian does not make anyone less a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or other ethnicity.
“Malaysians of different ethnic origin must always be conscious of the need to have mutual respect for one another,” he said.
Lee also said the most urgent task of all Malaysians was to ensure racial and religious harmony and reject all forms of extremism which could undermine peace and harmony in the country.
He said responsible and patriotic Malaysians must work for peace and harmony and refrain from acts of provocation and violence.
“Multiracial living and community are part of our heritage. Unity in diversity is a priceless gift that must be cherished by all Malaysians,” he added.