KUCHING: The unique identity of Sarawakians in embracing each other regardless of racial background contributes to the character of Malaysia as a multiracial nation, said Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
He said that Sarawak was successful in getting all ethnicities to come together and build with each other.
“I believe we have achieved it to a large extent. Even if it’s not 100 percent yet, the feeling (of multiracial unity) has spread throughout all the communities ― Chinese, Malay, Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, and so on,” he said.
He was speaking at the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Chinese New Year (CNY) with the Community ceremony at the MBKS Community Hall, Padungan Road here yesterday.
He said that in other words, there was easy intermingling of people in Sarawak’s cities, adding that he did not want to say much on the matter but would rather leave it to the people themselves.
“Let it come from them rather than from us in the government,” he said.
Taib said that Kuching had become truly multiracial and no longer segregated, though initially its people had settled in different areas, making certain areas predominantly Chinese-populated and other areas largely Malay-populated.
“Then gradually, more and more Ibans and other races came in to make Kuching very multiracial ― not just because they stay here but they have been able to interact well within the workplace and at social functions,” he said.
“It is a slow process because we do not want to force anybody,” he added.
Meanwhile, he congratulated MBKS mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng on the practice of bringing all the races together during CNY, despite it being a Chinese festival.
Wee, in his speech, said that through events such as this, MBKS sought to create platforms and opportunities for Sarawakians of various backgrounds and ethnicities to interact and engage better among one another.
Touching on MBKS’ theme for 2020 operations ‘linkage and connectivity’, he said that it was important to have constant engagement with the citizens in order to effectively measure the efficiency and efficacy of the council’s work.
“As such, the MBKS management is going through an overhaul to re-engineer ourselves towards increasing the council’s capacity in managing our stakeholders ― namely the state authority and our citizens,” he said.
“Today’s event is made more meaningful as it reflects on this theme of building connectivity and linkage,” said Wee.
Also present were Taib’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Ragad Kurdi Taib, Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) Datuk Junaidi Reduan, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing Datuk Antonio Kahti Galis representing Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, and other guests.