KUCHING: Sarawakians should uphold their unique multicultural harmony which is touchingly evident during celebrations. This Chinese New Year the same holds true for the state, say its leaders.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state’s diversity was a source of beauty and strength, not division.
“Sarawak is a place where the respective races are free to practice their culture, traditions and religion without hindrance.
“We celebrate and find strength in our differences rather than letting them divide us, ” he said in his Chinese New Year message.
Abang Johari also told Sarawakians to uphold the spirit of togetherness and mutual trust so that the state would continue to be harmonious.
“As we join our Chinese friends to celebrate the New Year, I invite all of you to look back at the past where our multiracial society was closely-knit in the ways we conducted our everyday lives.
“We played, went to picnics, and frequented the same coffeeshops and had fun together, regardless of whether one is Malay, Chinese, Dayak or Orang Ulu, ” he said.
Sarawak United People’s Party president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said there were no racial differences or religious barriers in Sarawak.
“This is an asset that all Sarawakians should treasure, ” he said.
He expressed concern about the growing cases of extremism in the country, including the recent controversy involving Chinese New Year decorations at SMK Bandar Puchong 1 in Selangor and the attempt to challenge the legal status of vernacular schools.
“All this will jeopardise the racial harmony in our country, ” he said, adding that national leaders should take action against extremists.
In Kota Kinabalu, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal urged Sabahans to treasure and preserve the state’s diverse culture and background.
He said as all celebrated Chinese New Year, upholding peace and unity was important for Sabahans.
“I will always remember as a child, anticipating the loud and bright festivities marked by the sound of firecrackers and drums accompanying the colourful dragon dance, ” he said in his Chinese New Year message.
He said it manifests the uniqueness of one of the many races in this country and highlights open house concepts of celebrating that is inclusive and enables everyone to partake.
“This is proof that we Sabahans live together in unity, ” Shafie said.
He said as Chinese New Year is a happy occasion, he wishes everyone celebrating happiness, prosperity, good health and fortune for the coming year.