500 attend forum aimed at raising Catholic community awareness of national, state issues

Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Most Reverend Father Simon Poh (fourth left) in a photo-call with the forum panellists and moderator.

KUCHING, April 7: About 500 people gathered at the Archdiocesan Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre (ACCPC) here for the “Malaysia, Sarawak and You” forum today. 

According to a press release, panellists representing the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalitions were there to respond to their queries and concerns.

The panellists comprised Pelagus assemblyman Wilson Nyabong from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS); Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang from Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP); Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen from Democratic Action Party (DAP); and Ba’ kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

The moderator of the forum was Dr Helen Ting, a political science lecturer at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Organised by the Political and Social Awareness Ministry based in the Blessed Sacrament Church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kuching, the forum’s objective was to raise awareness, to educate and to generate interest of the Catholic community in national and Sarawak issues.

The panellists touched on the topics of economy, governance and accountability, religious freedom and the rebalancing of Sarawak-Federal relations.

“Such education is necessary for valuable participation of citizens in the democratic process. It is noteworthy that the Political and Social Awareness Ministry was established in response to the call from the Catholic community for the Church, while remaining neutral in partisan politics,” the press statement said.

Its aim is to help its members engage in the Malaysian public life and contribute positively to the advancement of the country by serving the common good.

The organisers stressed on the importance of respect and decorum during the forum to inculcate a mature and healthy attitude in politics among Christians.

This forum was the first of its kind for the Catholic Church in Sarawak.

The organisers also hoped for many future collaborations with elected representatives of different political persuasions to serve and educate the community.

The statement also said that the forum could not have been carried out on a more suitable day in view of its coincidence with the dissolution of the Malaysian Parliament announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak just yesterday.

The General Elections must be carried out within 60 days of Parliament’s dissolution. — DayakDaily