Mul­ti­eth­nic­ity at its best in Sarawak

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Malaysia Day -

IT USU­ALLY takes an out­sider or a to­tal stranger to re­mind us of the spe­cial things in our daily life that we of­ten take for granted.

A pro­fes­sor from China re­cently de­scribed Miri’s mul­tira­cial and mul­tire­li­gious com­po­si­tion as a most at­trac­tive as­set that is price­less.

Prof Wang Rui He, who is the vice-pres­i­dent of China Univer­sity of Petroleum, vis­ited Miri to look into plans to es­tab­lish a train­ing col­lege here.

Dur­ing a lun­cheon with lo­cal politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers as well as re­porters in this city, he told them that Miri was in­deed a very spe­cial place.

“I have trav­elled to many parts of the world. My work takes me to coun­tries in North and South Amer­ica, Europe, the Mid­dle East and all over Asia.

“While I am very fa­mil­iar with Asean coun­tries be­cause I visit them of­ten, this is my first visit to Miri.

“This place is very spe­cial be­cause this city has so many races and re­li­gions, peo­ple who speak all kinds of lan­guages and di­alects liv­ing in one place.

“That is the most im­por­tant as­set in Miri. To be able to have so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple of dif­fer­ing back­grounds be­ing able to live and work in peace is some­thing that is very dif­fi­cult to find in the world to­day.

“Miri must take good care of this pre­cious as­set,” he said to the crowd lis­ten­ing to him.

“We in China have al­ways re­spected peace and har­mony and we en­joy work­ing with those who have sim­i­lar val­ues be­cause that will en­sure a work­ing co­op­er­a­tion that will have bright prospects,” he stressed.

The good pro­fes­sor was spot-on in his ob­ser­va­tions about Miri.

For us Sarawakians, this racial and re­li­gious sol­i­dar­ity comes nat­u­rally and is noth­ing new.

We in Sarawak have been liv­ing like this for cen­turies. There are mosques and churches built side by side with Chi­nese and In­dian tem­ples nearby each other.

In our cof­feeshops, we can see Mus­lims, Chi­nese, In­di­ans, Ibans and Orang Ulu op­er­at­ing food stalls un­der one roof. Mus­lims and non-Mus­lims eat at the same ta­ble and it is not un­com­mon to see Malays chat­ting in Man­darin, Hokkien, Hakka and Iban.

I vis­ited one such truly-Sarawak ko­pi­tiam in the heart of Miri city and in­deed, it is heart­warm­ing to see such in­ter-racial and in­ter-re­li­gious har­mony flour­ish­ing.

This mul­tira­cial ko­pi­tiam called “Plates Miri” is like a mini Sarawak. The en­tre­pre­neur be­hind the eatery is Molly Robert, an Iban woman.

In­side the cof­feeshop are stalls sell­ing Iban food, Kayan food, Chi­nese food and Mus­lim food.

The Mus­lim stall is op­er­ated by a Mus­lim lady and she sells mee jawa and Sarawak laksa. Lo­cated next to it is a stall sell­ing Chi­nese food such as mee sua and kolok mee manned by a Dayak.

Also on the menu are Orang Ulu dishes such as the de­li­cious wild fern midin and other food pre­pared by a team of mul­ti­eth­nic cooks.

That is multi-racial in­te­gra­tion at its best.

And you see this not just in Miri but also in Kuching, Bin­tulu, Sibu and other towns in Sarawak.

That is the true spirit of Sarawak where ev­ery­one has a place un­der the sun.

As we cel­e­brate Malaysia Day, let us not for­get nor take for granted this unique multi-racial and mul­tire­li­gious way of life.

Th­ese virtues of Sarawakians are in­deed price­less.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.