MIRI: Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has warned that he will not allow "naughty" groups in Sarawak to stir up racial hatred and religious strife in the name of "so-called democracy" even though he agrees that peaceful political dissent should be allowed.
The Sarawak Chief Minister, who is also the longest-serving state government leader in the country, said he is duty-bound to protect the existing solid harmony and unity among the many diverse ethnic and racial groups in this huge state because it is too precious to lose.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be threatened by small groups of radicals. If there are any 'naughty' groups in Sarawak who are thinking of instigating the people in the name of democracy, we are prepared to deal with them accordingly.
"We must not allow anyone to take for granted the sort of peace and unity Sarawak has attained. Look at the incidents that are happening everywhere that threaten to destabilise society. We will not allow it to happen here in Sarawak.
"We are now evolving to become a more open government. The media is enjoying greater freedom than ever before and political dissent is allowed in the open as long as it is peaceful. We are enjoying greater openness compared to before but it must be within the legal framework," he said when declaring open the Setia Raja Flyover project in Miri City on Monday.
The project is part of a RM110mil flyover package for Miri funded by the Federal Government. The whole package involves the construction of two flyovers in the city. The other flyover, called the Pujut Flyover, was declared open by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last month.
Taib said Sarawak had managed to cultivate a very unique blend of inter-racial and inter-religious cooperation that had enabled the Malays, Chinese, Ibans, the Orang Ulus and other smaller groups to live very closely without feeling any sort of animosity.
This special Sarawak asset must be protected, preserved and enhanced at all cost, he stressed.
Taib, who has been chief minister for 27 years, also took the opportunity to thank the Federal Government and the Works Ministry for giving priority attention to improving the level of infrastructure facilities throughout the state.
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