Immigration powers a shield

Fatimah with other dignitaries pose with the participants at the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Photo: Ramidi Subari

We’ve managed to shut our racists and religious extremists, says CM

KUCHING: Sarawak is fortunate to have its immigration autonomy, which has shielded its citizens from various undesirable elements from outside its shores.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg says Sarawakians have been shielded primarily from racial and religious bigotry.

“Our immigration powers are our right as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, which no one can take away from us.

“I not only say it here because I have pointed this out to the Steering Committee on (Malaysia Agreement) MA63 chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that our immigration autonomy is a right that is not open to any negotiation,” he said at the World Interfaith Harmony Week here yesterday.

His text of speech was read by Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

Abang Johari said its citizens must continue to stay united and “not fall into the trap of dwelling on our differences but rather we must celebrate our diversity and draw strength from our various racial and religious backgrounds.”

“After all, a monochrome or mono colour is monotonous but a kaleidoscope of colours is always pleasing to the eye,” he said.

Abang Johari said Sarawak was very fortunate to have diversity in cultural and religious practices.

“The idea of why Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) was formed came from this compelling reason that Sarawakians must care for one another.

“We not only want to ensure that Muslims are well looked after, we also want to ensure that our friends from other religions are taken care of in the true meaning of our unity in diversity,” he stressed.

He said the Sarawak government was not only dishing out millions of ringgit to build churches and temples but more importantly, it was sincere in helping non-Muslims and building a united and harmonious Sarawak like it used to be in the days of old.

“Although now we have a bit of extra revenue of RM3.8 billion from the imposition of five per cent sales tax on petroleum and gas products, we cannot afford to waste our resources at the expense of the rakyat, especially those in the rural who are very much in need of good roads, electricity and water supplies.

“We will continue to look for ways to bring in more revenue which we will give back to the people in the form of infrastructure and facilities like the building of good and comfortable churches and temples,” he said.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week themed “Love of God, Love of Neighbour’, is organised by Unifor, Department of National Unity and Intergration Sarawak, and IIC, and Sarawak Islamic Council.

Seven panels comprising different religions shared their views – Chin Chia Chau who represented the Bahai, Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammika (Buddhist), Father Felix Au (Christian), Balachandran Annamalai (Hindu) Firdaus Wong Wai Hung (Islam), Gurdial Singh (Sikh) and Jong Yeng Hui (Tao).

Also present were Women, Family and Childhood Development Assistant Minister Rosey Yunus, Unifor director Datuk Dr Ngenang Jangu and IIC chief executive officer Zabariah Matali.