Sarawak is a blessed state. It’s peaceful, rich and simply lovely in almost every aspect. West Malaysians come to Sarawak shores dazzled by the unity and community spirit among Sarawakians regardless of race or religion.
The person that many do not give much credit for this strong unity is none other than the Sarawak Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. Say what you want, but Taib Mahmud has, within his years in office ensured religious freedom in Sarawak is well retained and practised.
In fact, at a recent fund raising dinner which I attended last night, many spoke of his equality and care when it comes to safe guarding freedom of religion in Sarawak. The proof of this is evident when you hear Sunday masses broadcast over local radio stations, religious banner irregardless of religion hung around the city, and his calls for everyone regardless of religion and race to respect each other.
In fact, a recent article in The Star made it clearer:
It is well known that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has no qualms about opening churches, and he does this even in the middle of election campaigns. He has openly declared that he studied the Bible in school and his family has donated money to churches.
No Malay leader in the peninsula, in his right mind, would have dared to make such a statement unless he wished to commit political suicide.
It is in these two states that the spirit of 1Malaysia truly lives.
It is a joy to see people of all races sitting down together and enjoying their coffee in the old kopi tiam in these two states.
In the area I’m living in, there’s a mosque being built, but at the same time, about less than 1km away, a new Methodist church is also under construction. If my area was in another state in the Peninsular, will this even happen? I have a feeling that there would be opposition even before the church was planned!
Anyway, Pehin Sri has done a remarkable job in making Sarawak a united yet peaceful place. He has in his own way fostered the beautiful community we have now, making us Sarawakian a proud lot when talking about race relations in our home land.
Taib Mahmud has announced he’ll be leaving soon, and I hope his successor will be as open and liberal as Taib when it comes to religion because only then can we continue to have a lovely Sarawak which is united as one.
Before I end this article/post, let me just say that there are many bad things one may do in his lifetime, but let’s not forget the good deeds that has been done.