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By Brad Rantayy
MIRI,Dec 7: Some 40,000 people from 15 churches have turned up to participate and watch the 12th Miri Christmas Parade which kicked off at the Miri City Fan tonight.
The weather was more than cooperative and people were thrilled and in high spirits as they joined in the parade covering about five kilometres.
Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to flag off the parade at 7.30pm.
Abang Johari, in his text-of-speech read by Lee, pointed out that the grand celebration of Christmas in Sarawak with such parade demonstrated the religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution.
“In Sarawak, we will do our best to ensure a harmonious living through nurturing mutual respect among the people in our multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural community.
“It is not an easy task to cultivate a harmonious society but we Sarawakians have shown that it is possible to live together harmoniously despite our differences,” he said.
In congratulating Christians in Miri for their tremendous effort in spreading the joy of Christmas, Abang Johari noted that last year’s Christmas parade here which drew a 40,000-strong crowd made history as the largest parade in Sarawak.
He reaffirmed that the state government will continue to support activities of other religions besides Islam through the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).
“Sarawak is the only state (in Malaysia) that provides financial assistance to other religions, apart from Islam, in a structured manner through Unifor.
“To us religious harmony is not about talking – we have to walk the talk,” he emphasised.
Touching on immigration, Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak’s authority over immigration was entrenched in the Federal Constitution.
“We welcome genuine visitors but those who come with the intention of stirring up trouble among us are not welcome. This (immigration) is our right and we, for whatever reason or intention, must not lose this right,” he added.
Abang Johari also announced RM60,000 grant for the Association of Churches in Miri.
Miri Mayor Adam Yii, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, Miri district officer Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf and organising chairman Pastor Andrew Ganya were present.— DayakDaily