KUCHING, Feb 11: Sarawakian Chinese are no longer foreigners but part of Sarawakians society, said, Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
“I believe our common feeling whether we are Chinese or Bumiputeras, after 50 years of independence, have changed a lot as compared to those in the early days.
“The Chinese, once regarded as foreigners, have become part of the community and they can now speak many dialects. Generally, they discover they are different the moment they go to places outside the state like Hong Kong.
“For example, an old friend of mine, my former classmate who accompanied me for holiday in Hong Kong. One day I heard him talking about Hong Kong Chinese being different from his.
“He admitted ‘Yes, I am Chinese but a Malaysian Chinese’. That is how they feel,” Taib said in his Chinese New Year message.
He asserted that obviously, the people, after more than 50 years of independence have acquired the spirit of nationalism, which has enabled them to cooperate among themselves in serving the interests of the State and country.
“This new trend has become the basis to strengthen the unity and solidarity of the people without us realizing that we, the people of Sarawak, are moving closer together to become more united and meaningful members of the Malaysian society.
“For this reason, even though we are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year, I do not only speak to the Chinese but all the people comprising about 30 ethnic groups, who all share the joy of the celebration. The Chinese too join the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai Dayak,” he said.
Taib added that through all these celebrations, the people can renew and strengthen the relationship that they have been able to build among the various ethnic groups in the State.
“This truly manifests the fact that the people during the last 50 years have mutual respect for each other and share the common desire to live in peace and harmony among them.
“Therefore, Sarawak has rightly earned a reputation as a peaceful State where people live in unity and harmony in spite of differences in ethnicity and religion. The State has truly embraced cultural diversity, unity and harmony, which has enabled the people to focus their time and energy towards development,” said Taib.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, Taib also advised the people to be vigilant and adapt to the new norms.
“We are celebrating the Chinese New Year 2021, the year of the Ox in a new normal unlike what the people used to do quite strictly based on the traditions of getting together, seeking reunions and sharing the joy of the festival.
“The country like the rest of the world is experiencing the Coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic, which is being regarded as the most dangerous pandemic plaguing the world. It is affecting the biggest nations like USA, India, Chinese, Brazil and developed nations in Europe like Sweden, Germany, France, Italy worse than the small nations.
“We have taken the necessary steps to curb the widespread of the pandemic in Sarawak, which has been reporting some cases in Sibu, Kanowit, Miri and Kuching,” he reiterated.
On another issue, Taib hoped that conscientious efforts must be made to push Sarawak to a higher level of development as the future of Sarawak lies in the degree of its efficiency and continuous commitment to project it as a preferred investment destination.
Taib added that every Sarawakian has important role to play to ensure that Sarawak will achieve greater progress and prosperity towards the year 2030 and beyond.
“All of us must continue to be committed and determined to work harder towards achieving the development goals. The commitment from all levels of society will give us the strength to face the challenges ahead.
“In this regard, it is important for us to put in place two objectives namely to accelerate the economic growth and address the development gap with the priority to improve the livelihood of the people in rural areas,” he said.
Taib also hoped that the people will rally behind the government to further develop the State.
“The task of developing the State does not rest with the Government alone. The private sector, comprising big and small business enterprises, has to take this challenge and work together with the State Government to achieve the development agenda for common benefits,” he said.
Meanwhile, he hoped that the Chinese New Year 2021, which is the year of the Ox would inspire Sarawakians with the characteristics of the Ox in pursuing for progress and advancement.