KUCHING: The Sarawak Cultural Unity Parade is another feather in the cap of the Sarawak government.
The event, which will now be included in the Sarawak Tourism Calendar, was initially part of an annual affair organised by mainly the Chinese community here.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who was the guest of honour at last night’s Sarawak Cultural Unity Parade, explained that there were two main parades in Kuching annually.
Last night’s parade, hosted by a Chinese temple at Carpenter Street, the current event, is regarded as the year-end event based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
The other parade by another Chinese temple at Wayang Street, is usually held as part of the lunar year celebration.
Sim explained that for over 100 years, various Chinese clans had been showcasing their unity and culture at such parades.
Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, who was also present, commended the Sarawak government for sponsoring the lead float built in the shape of the first ship that came to Sarawak hundreds of years ago.
He was also grateful the Sarawak government had included the event in the Tourism Calendar.
Guest of honour and Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in his speech, stressed that the state government would celebrate all cultures in their glory.
He revealed that even though he was a Muslim, he was the chairman of a fund raising committee to build a church.
“I feel that this should be the way forward for Sarawak,” said Karim.
Sarawakians should continue to preserve unity in diversity and their participation in events such as the Sarawak Cultural Unity Parade would only bode well for the state’s future, he added.
He reminded the crowd about a speech by the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem in which the latter said the Chinese in Sarawak were not “pendatang”(foreigners) and that the community was very much part and parcel of the fabric in Sarawak society.
Karim emphasised that the level of understanding and tolerance in Sarawak was special and must be maintained.
He recalled the time when he officiated at the opening of a pagoda built for the Buddhist community in Asajaya.
He said he was on his second day of fasting and the entire community did not partake in any food or drinks while he was present at the event out of respect for him.
Met with a thunderous applause, Karim went on to say, “This level of mutual understanding is worth fighting for.”
He urged the people to continue the tradition of coexistence in tolerance for the sake of maintaining stability in Sarawak.
Karim assured the crowd that the Sarawak government would continue to celebrate all cultures in Sarawak regardless of their political affiliation.
He was happy to note the presence of the Batu Lintang assemblyman and a member of the opposition party at the event, describing it as a testament of the unity prevalent in Sarawak. -S. SIVANESAN