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By Nur Ashikin Louis and Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 26: Repairs of all mission schools in Sarawak are being funded by the State government despite the lack of funding from the federal government to meet the needs of all schools.
Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg noted the legacy left behind by missionary Revd Francis Thomas McDougall who started mission schools in Sarawak during the Brooke era which enabled many to not only receive quality education but inculcated values of respect, tolerance, acceptance and kindness that have stay etched forever to create a peaceful, harmonious and united Sarawak until this day.
“Without mission schools, I don’t know where we are (sic). But because of the spirit of togetherness we are able to build our community to such a high tolerance level.
“I for one also benefited from mission schools as well as many others. So we are contributing back to society (through public service),” he said when speaking at the Anglican Christmas open house at St Thomas’s Cathedral Parish Hall here today.
Abang Johari revealed that he learnt from Minister of Works Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi of the federal government facing constraints as there was inadequate funding to improve schools in Kapit.
“But all mission schools in Sarawak are being repaired by the State government.This is the approach we are taking.
“In fact, we have one common objective despite the political divide and that is to help people, especially to provide good education to Sarawakians,” he said.
He added that the State government has also recently passed the Sovereign Wealth Future Fund Bill with the purpose of saving part of the State’s revenue for the future of Sarawakians.
“It is our aspiration that one day we can give free tertiary education to Sarawakians in Sarawak-owned universities,” he said.
Abang Johari also reminded Sarawakians to protect and sustain the high degree of acceptance and tolerance among the different religions in Sarawak that has enabled all to celebrate every festivity, including Christmas, in a very peaceful environment.
Sarawak’s high level of acceptance was in full display during the Covid-19 pandemic, he pointed out, where doctors saved lives without discrimination.
“They treat and save patients regardless of their backgrounds. You don’t question the patient’s faith but how to survive the pandemic. Whether the patient is a Christian, whether the doctor is a Muslim or another faith, your prime objective is to save lives.
“The spirit of co-existence which forms the universal value must be inculcated among us. In this regard, we formed Unifor (Unit for Other Religions) headed by Datuk Amar Douglas (Uggah Embas) with allocation set aside to help not only houses of worship but also mission schools,” he said.
Abang Johari also noted that Anglican Bishop of Sarawak and Brunei Reverend Datuk Danald Jute has been exemplary when he headed a church in Lutong that sits next to a mosque. He had allowed the Muslims to use the church’s carpark on Fridays and the mosque also let churchgoers park their cars at its car park on Sundays.
“That is concrete evidence of high tolerance among the diverse community in Sarawak.
“The most important is for us to create a good environment so that people can carry out their worship in a peaceful manner and comfortably. The same with other faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism. I will do my best to contribute to the growth and development of different religions in Sarawak during my tenure,” he gave assurance.
The event also witnessed the presentation of contributions to five organisations namely the Society of The Blind, Sarawak Cheshire Home, Society for Cancer Advocacy and Awareness (SCAN), Kuching Autistic Association and Rumah Seri Kenangan Kuching.
Also present were the Premier’s wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and his wife Datin Amar Doreen Mayang, Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and his wife Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, as well as Danald’s wife Datin Julita Jack Sungul.
Other leaders present included Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, Kota Sentosa assemblyman Wilfred Yap, Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang, and Unifor director Datu Jack Aman Luat. — DayakDaily