By Peter Sibon
Sarawak is literally a paradise in all aspects of the word. With its current population of 2.8 million from at least 27 ethnic groups living in peace and harmony, this Land of the Hornbills has been touted as the role model of what racial and religious harmony is all about.
On Saturday (Sept 7) at a function organised by Unit for Other Religion (Unifor), Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg re-assured Sarawakians that he would enforce Sarawak’s autonomy to ban bigots, extremists and racists from entering Sarawak. This is indeed a strong message for all, that Sarawak will not tolerate any form of extremism from any quarters.
At the function, Abang Johari approved RM30 million allocation for other religions to build their places of worship. This is indeed an exemplary policy and Sarawak is the only state in the country to do so.
And last night (Sept 8), Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced that Abang Johari has pledged RM7 million to assist the re-building of a RM10 million new seminary – the House of Epiphany which has been used by the Anglican Church for decades to train local priests.
Abang Johari’s gesture further demonstrated that Sarawak is way ahead of other states in Malaysia in racial and religious tolerance. Indeed, this is one excellent example where credit must be given where it is due!
On his official birthday today, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has called Malaysians to be more tolerant towards one another in a country where the Malays are the majority and Islam is the official religion.
It was a call that should be heeded by all Malaysians if we want to work towards a moderate country we called our own. Disappointingly, it will be a daunting task for the current Federal Government which has shown no strong political stance in any issue but ever-changing flip-flop policies.
For instance, the federal leaders continue to allow a wanted money-launderer to be sheltered when he should have been deported back to his country of origin. There are also the issues of introducing khat in primary schools; allowing extreme view of “Malaysia is for the Malays” and the ‘doa’ issue whereby the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) forbid the recital of ‘doa’ during official functions.
In facing these issues, Sarawak is the only State which officially renounced all of these “strange” policies or opinions.
And it is the stance of Sarawakians – that we wanted to be “left alone”.
The people from Peninsular Malaysia may have thought that they are more advanced than Sarawak in terms of development. But Sarawak however, is clearly way ahead of them in terms of religious and racial tolerance.
Sarawak may be behind in terms of physical infrastructure development but we are catching up with Sarawak government now pouring billions of ringgit to build up the whole of Sarawak.
Amid rapid development, Sarawak must be on the alert to prevent the negative elements from outside from coming ashore, lest the existing social fabric and religious harmony be torn apart or ruined.
And to prevent the entering of religious extremists and bigots, it will not only take a strong-will and clear-minded Sarawak government but also the solid support of the people which forms the basic foundation of the government. — DayakDaily