Mixed marriages could further promote interfaith, intercultural acceptance among Sarawakians

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Jan 13: Multiracial Sarawakians or children of mixed marriages will propel the state to greater racial and religious harmony among peoples of different ethnic groups in future, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He believed that Sarawakians, who have been living in peace and harmony all this while, will become even closer with more inter-marriages in future.

“Because the time will come when the racial issue won’t be there anymore because of the multiracial Sarawakians,” he said, pointing out that more intercultural and interfaith acceptance and understanding may emerge as an indirect result of mixed marriages.

The chief minister warned the people against extremists and religious bigots from creeping into Sarawak’s moderate society, which could potentially challenge the state’s continuous religious harmony and religious tolerance in Sarawak.

Abang Johari also highlighted the need for Sarawak to build its human capital to attract talented Sarawakians back home.

“You know, you cannot only talk about Sarawak, but you have to talk about the capacity of Sarawakians because you may also have to operate beyond Sarawak. So, that is why education is important. Now we are providing the right ecosystem, as have mentioned earlier the areas we are looking into; including education, building international schools.

“So that Sarawakians can excel in all spheres including sports. So what I’m saying here is that if we want to create this environment, it’s up to the Sarawakians themselves now. Opportunities are aplenty, it just depends on whether you are trained to take that opportunity,” he said.

The chief minister asserted that in order for Sarawakians to progress, they must have the confidence to face the many challenges ahead of them.

“The first thing you must have is confidence because you have all the necessary ingredients to move forward. My feeling is we have all that. Then secondly, I believe Sarawakians have the talents.

“A lot of Sarawakians are working overseas because the opportunities here do not match with their training. That’s why they are overseas. In other words, you have to upgrade your economy that will match with their training. If you are trained in data analytics, so your economy must be based on digital.

“That’s why when we implement our Sarawak Pay, some other states want to be cashless, we have done it already. Then today the transactions are worth over RM100 million already. In other words, when you have this digital ecosystem then the people that have been trained can work here.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister pointed out that he was serious in establishing the old DUN complex as Sarawak’s Performing Arts Centre as a means to establish the necessary ecosystem to retain local talents from moving away.

“You must establish that ecosystem. For instance, our creative industry, we have the talent. That’s why you notice some of the national singers are from Sarawak. Even Hollywood’s renowned film director James Wan is from Sarawak. Now, because of that I want to transform our old DUN into Performing Arts Centre. So you can really build up our talent. Once you got that talent, you will become known worldwide.” —DayakDaily