GROWING up in Sarawak made me somewhat sheltered I guess.
Of course I know my own race and am very proud of my cultural heritage. I also cling closely to my religious beliefs.
However, I never really thought about racial and religious differences or rather they were never an issue for me except until I went to the peninsula.
I once brought a non-Malay friend from Malaya to Malay kampungs in Kuching at night. He was very wary when I told him where we were going and was extremely nervous when we drove through the narrow village roads.I hadn’t even thought it would be an issue and of course it wasn’t.This is Sarawak. How else was I going to call on friends after work at their kampung houses?
I have attended many a funeral at my church where there are friends or relatives of the family who are Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists or Hindus in attendance as well. They were there respectfully to mourn along with the family of the deceased knowing fully well that they were not betraying their faith or community in any way after attending the entire Christian funeral service.
Most of us Sarawakians speak at least a little of another community’s language. It comes naturally because we have so many friends or even relatives from other communities. We learnt the languages in the playground as children or at school or work.
That’s why it was no surprise to me that Datin Patinggi Dato Jamilah Anu — the wife of our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Adenan Satem — can speak fluently in Hakka. In fact she gave a speech in Hakka during an event in Bau.
At this same event our Chief Minister pointed out that race and religion have never been issues in our fairland of Sarawak.
He highlighted how important these bonds of unity are in safeguarding the security and sovereignty of our state and indeed the nation.
Too right, particularly when so many from Malaya are trying to drive wedges between the different faiths and races.
Let’s make sure we Sarawakians don’t fall into that trap. We must continue to defend and uphold our Sarawakian way of life.
The Bernama story:
Race And Religion Never An Issue In Sarawak, Says Adenan
BAU, July 26 (Bernama)– Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said that he was proud to be the chief minister for a state, where race and religion have never become an issue to the people.
“Not even the differences of political ideologies can divide us. Look we have people from SUPP (Sarawak United People’s Party), UPP (United People’s Party), SPDP (Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party ) and Teras (Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak) who can come together for this celebration,” he said at a Hari Raya gathering at Bau Civic Centre here today.
UPP and Teras are the splinter parties from SUPP and SPDP respectively but are Barisan Nasional (BN) friendly.
Adenan said he was happy that despite arguing and fighting in politics, they were able to put politics aside and sit down together, which not many (other states and parties) could do.
“Sarawak should always ensure the unity bond remains strong as it is the way to safeguard the security and sovereignty of the state and nation,” he said.
However the highlight of the celebration was when Adenan’s wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu took to the stage and began her speech in the Chinese Hakka dialect.
“I saw a lot of my friends here and people that I know, I’m glad that I’m back here for the festive season and knowing that the people here are still united as one, living in a small town peacefully,” she said in fluent Hakka.
Bau located about 30km away from the city, is home to the Hakka-Chinese community as well as to the Bidayuh and Muslims, which is also the hometown of Jamilah.
She told some 2,500 guests at the event that she learnt her Hakka from friends and neighbours when she was young, living in a multi-racial village.
“This is something (unity and tolerance) that have been deep in our hearts since decades ago and we are still preserving,” she said. — BERNAMA