Religious openness: Late Taib encouraged intercultural festival, remembered for inclusive leadership

(From left) Sim and Shankar Ram.

KUCHING, Feb 21: Being a moderate and inclusive leader, the late Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had encouraged Dato Sim Swee Yong to initiate the annual Intercultural Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street.

President of Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association Kuching (Sheda Kuching) Dato Sim Kiang Chiok said as his late father was a classmate of Taib, the latter had become a close family friend.

“As a moderate and inclusive leader, he encouraged my late father to initiate the annual Intercultural Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street. This event showcased his (Taib’s) moderate and inclusive government policies.

“A memorable quote of his that I always remember was shared at a dinner function. —  ‘We can’t choose our parents nor our race, so we must be fair to all’,” said Sim in a statement.

He said the passing of Taib has saddened the family and he believed that this loss deeply affects not only the Sim family but all who knew him and were touched by his leadership and vision for Sarawak.

To him, Taib has left behind a proud State managed by Sarawakians, with solid financial reserves and a strong foundation.

“This foundation enables us to leap forward into the twenty-first century with his initiatives like the hydroelectric power dams, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), and again, a healthy financial reserve,” said Sim.

Taib (centre in white shirt) encourages late Dato Sim Swee Yong to initiate the Annual Intercultural Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street.

Meanwhile, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Committee president Shankar Ram Asnani also highlighted Taib’s contribution to Sarawak.

“Tun Taib was a great leader and his demise is a big loss for Sarawak. We will miss Tun Taib.

“Over the years, we saw Sarawak prosper way beyond its expectations and I must say that Tun Taib contributed substantially to peace, harmony and the prosperity of Sarawak,” said Shankar Ram, who is also a senior lawyer.

Taib, who served as Sarawak’s chief minister for over three decades and later Governor for almost a decade, passed away at the age of 87 earlier this morning at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur. — DayakDaily