Zabariah giving her welcoming remarks.
BY NATASHA JEE & SARAH HAFIZAH CHANDRA

KUCHING: Various religious organisations converged on the Sarawak Islamic Information Centre (SIIC) to share various topics at the ‘Let’s Talk Peace and Harmony: Helping Without Borders’ gathering organised in conjunction with SIIC’s 12th anniversary on Friday (Sept 25).

“The anniversary celebration this time may be small but it is held in a meaningful manner. This gathering allows us to renew our friendship and bring the relationship to a higher level.

“It also allows us to share on what we can we do to help each other in times of crisis regardless of creed and to learn from one another as we move forward,” said SIIC chief executive officer Zabariah Matali.

Among those present were Malaysia Buddhist Association Sarawak branch secretary Lim Teck Hui, Kuching Buddhist Society secretary-general Pung Chee Haw, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Sarawak chairman Chin Chia Chau, Malaysian Hindu Sangam chairman Prabhu Kripa Sindhu, Sarawak Sikh Temple exco member Dr Gurdial Singh Pretum Singh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Most Reverend Simon Poh and UiTM Samarahan Campus Islamic Affairs senior officer Ustaz Muhammad Illyas Muhammad Saleh.

At the gathering, Lim said achieving peace was the common aspiration of mankind, and religion played an important role in striving for, maintaining and practicing peace.

“And in the current process of building a harmonious society, Buddhism should not only emphasise the liberation of life and death, but also actively tap its rich resources of peace and contribute to the development of society.”

In line with the teachings of Buddha, the association actively promoted social welfare activities, creating a harmonious society and helping each other without borders through blood donation drive, charitable activities, providing free medication, donating face masks to rural communities, and providing food and drinks to Covid-19 frontliners.

Meanwhile, Pung said since the inception of the Kuching Buddhist Society in 1971, they had helped a tremendous number of individuals and families in the form of financial assistance, food, medication, counselling, school loans and other materials.

“Occasionally, we also provide financial assistance to needy patients who need to undergo dialysis and assist the Women’s Section in blood donation campaign every year.”

Chin said for the Baha’i, the concept of peace and harmony was taught from young to adulthood.

“We have several programmes to empower youths and on how they can help society, especially the needy, when they grow up.”

Talking on peace and harmony, Prabhu said in Hinduism, peace as a highest human value was interlinked with other values such as  truth, purity, friendliness, forgiveness and tolerance.

“God creates the universe without borders. But, who is the one that creates borders? It is human kind.”

Meanwhile, Gurdial said that harmony could only be achieved if there was peace among the people.

“Peace is equivalent to love, you love each other, and when there is no hatred, there will be peace.”

Archbishop Poh said mutual respect and acceptance of harmony were Sarawakians’ daily way of life where people would celebrate each other’s festivities.

“Growing up in the Green Road residential areas in the 1970s to 1980s, I fondly remember my mixed neighbourhood with Chinese, Dayak, Indian and Malay families. And we have been living together in peace until today.”

Ustaz Muhammad Illyas said Islam taught the importance of helping the needy and any act of kindness, no matter how small,  would be rewarded.

“In Islam, whoever does good deeds even if it’s as small as an atom, you will be rewarded by Allah SWT. That is why Muslims are encouraged to do good deeds.”

He also said that the community must discuss on how to overcome the alarming rate of suicide cases.

From January until September this year, there have been 465 suicide cases in the country.

There was also a live conference with Kuan Chee Heng, a philanthropist affectionately known as “Uncle Kentang”.