Different races mixing freely a good thing, says Taib  

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud

KUCHING, Feb 1: The mixing of races in a community will not destroy the root culture of each race in the country. In fact, it will make people understand more about the culture of each race.

In his Chinese New Year message, Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud observed that for those who have goodwill towards other races, they feel very comfortable to share meals and other ways of enjoying the celebration among themselves.

Thus, the Chinese, the Ibans, the Malays and, to a lesser extent, the Indians can feel that they are not totally an isolated community.

“They are part of a multi-racial Malaysia, where culture is no bearer; in fact, it makes other people understand each other in spite of the differences that come to them because of their different racial origins.

“I feel this is the greatest thing that Malaysia has that other countries cannot keep. And we have been keeping it for a long time.

“I hope we remain conscious of the fact that this practice of celebrating and participating in celebrations like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year and Gawai Dayak in Sarawak and the Indian celebration in Peninsular Malaysia will make sure that we are not going to be quickly isolated within our own culture just because we feel we ought to practise our own culture.

“Personally, I feel this is the uniqueness of what we have in Malaysia. This uniqueness will preserve our country, our unity, our understanding of each other for a long time to come.”

Taib acknowledged that there would be changes along the way in the ways things are done, but the consciousness of the people for being Malaysians of mixed racial origins make them aware that they are not living in isolation of their own culture.

In fact, he noted, they understand other people much more than in a society where there is no multi-racial structure like Malaysia’s.

On the forthcoming Chinese New Year, Taib said it represented an occasion where all Malaysians would have the opportunity to celebrate and to see how the Chinese try to “renew their friendship, how to come together”

“And thank God, we have all the races having the same kind of privileges to renew their friendship, their acquaintances and remember how to show their friendship in their own traditional ways to make sure that their celebrations have got their own characteristics and bring together those people whom they have not met for a long time to be able to talk about old times and make new contact again.

“I have celebrated Chinese New Year many times, and I feel this is the best time for me to be able to show my appreciation of friendship with my Chinese friends. Sometimes, I meet my former schoolmates, but, unfortunately, they are getting less and less now.

“But I feel this particular customs of ours of celebrating Chinese New Year, celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri, celebrating Gawai Dayak is the best institution to get our multi-racial people to mix well as well as to preserve the inheritance from our ancestors.”

Although things change from time to time, Taib pointed out that at least the children would still have the opportunity to recognise that they come from people who have their own cultural heritage and have been able to preserve this cultural heritage even though they are no longer staying in the same country.

“On this occasion of the Chinese New Year, I wish to take the opportunity to say Gong Xi Fa Cai to you all. May you all be happy to see old friends and get our culture to mean something, even to our younger children who are new to this kind of multi-racial society.” — DayakDaily