Shared history basis of Sarawak’s racial cohesion

Speakers and participants at the webinar. Seen are Dr Welyne (top row, centre); Dr Juna (top row, right); (centre row, from left) Prof Shamsul Amri, Nancy, Wee; and YPS chief executive Datuk Aloysius J Dris (bottom row, left).

KUCHING: The shared history of the people of Sarawak should be the basis for the state’s future hope, said Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

“We have shared so much to arrive at our present status. It is our shared history that forms our racial cohesion today.”

She was speaking during a webinar titled Shared History as the Foundation of Unity and Racial Cohesion organised by Yayasan Perpaduan Sarawak (YPS).

She pointed out that Sarawak, a multiracial and multi-religious society, has about 27 different ethnic groups with five major races – Malay, Iban, Chinese, Bidayuh, and Orang Ulu.

“These multi-ethnic groups have lived together long enough as a community regardless of their faiths, living like a big family as well as protecting and defending Sarawak from their common enemies.

“This was the beginning of the shared history that brought Sarawakians together as a strong community. They have struggled to protect their soil from abusive administrators during the Brooke era and sufferings during the Japanese occupation,” said the Batang Sadong MP.

She emphasised that this story had to be told to the new generations so that they would know of the history which led to the way Sarawakians live today, adding that it took a lot of sacrifices over a long time to arrive at what has been achieved.

Nancy said these past experiences had led the various ethnic communities in Sarawak to develop stronger bonds among themselves.

“I believe this confluence of cultures among the various ethnic groups in Sarawak has shaped a positive legacy for the state – a legacy that practises a high level of tolerance, acceptance, understanding and respect for each other.”

She said such values had become a norm among Sarawakian families as a way of preserving family traditions and cultures.

“Keeping family traditions and cultures means so much to us in Sarawak. Our family values that unite us all can become a new force for unity and solidarity across racial groups.”

She believed that a multiracial and multi-religious Sarawak based on encouraging excellence would continue to provide a strong foundation for the state to move forward.

“We must reject the notion that preference is made based on skin colour, ethnicity, religious belief or other considerations.”