KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah assistant minister has called on the people to protect the existing harmony and unity, saying there is no room for those trying to undermine peace in the state.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai also called on the people to turn their backs against those using religious and ethnic sentiments for their own personal gain.
Everyone, regardless of their beliefs, he emphasised, was responsible for maintaining a high level of tolerance.
“Religious tolerance is important and we in Sabah recognise that. This is where we excel, and we must continue to cultivate this strength,” he said at the launch of the Doa Sayangi Malaysia event here yesterday.
“We have more than 40 ethnic groups, each with its own beliefs, and our capacity to coexist peacefully is in keeping with the Keluarga Malaysia tagline promoted by the Malaysian government.
“We need to celebrate diversity and not see it as a hindrance to working together. This is the beauty that we focus on in order to keep our unity.”
Bangkuai was speaking at the event in conjunction with the 2022 state-level National Day celebration organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) at the Peak Nam Toong Temple here.
This programme is one of the Sabah Cultural Board’s initiatives and has been running since 2020.
It was aimed at providing space and opportunity to all Malaysians, especially non-Muslims in Sabah, to join together in praying for the country’s well-being.
Bangkuai said the prayer programme was very much in line with this year’s National Day theme, “Keluarga Malaysia, Teguh Bersama”.
“We can see various community groups, particularly religious bodies, working collaboratively to make this programme a success.
“We are like a family. Despite our different beliefs and values, we remain committed to praying for mutual well-being and strengthening our bonds with one another,” he said.
Present were Sabah Cultural Board general manager Mackey Apison Lo, FCAS vice-president Kapitan Fung Chun Fatt and representatives from the Kinabalu Singh Sabha Association, Malaysia Hindu Sangam Sabah and Sabah Bumiputra Christian Association, among others.