KOTA KINABALU: The presence of many multiracial parties in Sabah has provided an avenue for racial tolerance and understanding, Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said.
This had reduced the occurrence of racial or religious bigotry and extremism.
The practice of multiple religions within same families has also led to a high level of religious tolerance.
It is common in many Kadazandusun Murut and Sino Kadazandusun Murut families for Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or paganism to be practised by different members of the household.
Despite that, they co-exist harmoniously with great respect towards each other, he said here yesterday.
He said there was also less identification of race with economic function in the state, thus contributing to good racial interaction among Sabahans.
For instance, rice farming is practised not only by the Kadazandusun Murut community but also by the Bajau, rural Chinese, Bisaya, Kedayan and Orang Sungai. And so is fishing aside from the Bajau, Suluk, Iranun and Ubian, many Kadazandusun Murut are also fishermen, he said.
Dr Ongkili said ethnic unity and understanding in Sabah and Sarawak was more developed than elsewhere in the country because of the high level of inter-marriages among the races.
On preserving unity among Sabahans, he said there was a need to further promote inter-marriages, encourage quality interaction among the races through cultural programmes, sports, dialogue and joint economic activities, especially among the younger generation.
I think there is also a need to improve the principle of multiracialism in politics to avoid polarisation and act as a buffer against racism and racist tendencies, he said.
He said the state government should formulate and support programmes focused on celebration of diversity to develop appreciation of our heritages, ethnic values and interracial family bonds. Bernama
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