Fatimah: Though not a public holiday in Sarawak, Deepavali never fails to light the way for celebrants

Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 29: Even though Deepavali is not a public holiday in Sarawak, it has never dampened the festive spirit and more importantly the Sarawakian spirit as the Indian community and Sarawakians of various communities would come together for a meaningful celebration in their special way.

Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah emphasised that it is for the higher authorities to consider making Deepavali a public holiday in Sarawak.

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“But the decision will need to consider various aspects including the existing number of public holidays already gazetted in Sarawak as well as other matters.

“The Ministry can help the Indian community bring this proposal to the State government and Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg),” she told reporters after officiating at the Malaysian Family Unity Programme in conjunction with the Deepavali festival for Kuching Division at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness Hall today.

There have been efforts by various parties including the Indian community to make Deepavali a public holiday in Sarawak since 2010.

Deepavali, known as the festival of lights, falls on Nov 4 this year.

On today’s event, Fatimah pointed out that it reflected the true Sarawakian spirit of unity and solidarity in the Malaysian Family community in Sarawak which must continue to be protected and preserved.

“Social inclusion is important in all the things we do. No one should be made to feel excluded, sidelined or marginalised in Sarawak.

“As such, we must make sure that these values, which are the foundation of a country, a state and a community, are inculcated in our children right from their early years in school and at home so that they are exposed and see the differences and diversity.

“The element of respect for one another despite our differences is important. That is why conscious and planned efforts need to be taken to ensure the unity and harmony in our diverse community will continue to be protected, preserved and practiced,” she said.

Fatimah added that a Unity Action Committee at the State-level which she chaired with members made up of all races in Sarawak aims to further the unity agenda in Sarawak by implementing various programmes to enhance and strengthen the ties of Sarawak’s diverse community.

“We cannot be complacent especially in this era of social media as an issue can cause misunderstandings and divide us if taken or perceived wrongly.

“Sarawak is a beautiful place with diverse religions, race and culture. The fact that we can come together and sit together in celebrations such as Deepavali to socialise and interact shows that together we can progress and develop Sarawak to be a better place for ourselves, our people and our children, in line with the Malaysian Family aspiration,” she added.

Assistant Minister of Community Wellbeing Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Rosey Yunus, National Unity and Integration Department Sarawak director Dirwana Azool, Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) director Richard Lon, Penghulu Lucy Lingam and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Association Kuching president Shankar Ram were among those present. — DayakDaily

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