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Oleh Chris Maskilone

Datuk Christina Liew delivering Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. SNT Pix/Mohd Adam Arinin

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal assured that Parti Warisan Sabah together with PKR, DAP and Upko in the State Government are working closely together to bring about a true sense of unity among Malaysians in the State.

“We have promised to bring change and break away from the racially divisive policies of the previous government led by Umno.

“This pledge is already being fulfilled and we will continue to work on it to bring the promised change not only here in Sabah but the country,” he said in his welcoming speech at the National Christmas Open House at Padang Merdeka earlier tonight.

Datuk Christina Liew greeting and accompanying Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail upon arrival at the Padang Merdeka. SNT Pix/Mohd Adam Arinin

His text of speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

“I am happy to see people from all walks of life coming here to this historic Padang Merdeka to celebrate the national-level Christmas open house.

“This in itself reflects the unity of the people here,” he said, adding that it was crucial that this unity in diversity continues to be honoured and cherished since it is an asset and as the key to spur socio-economic growth of Malaysia.

Mohd Shafie said Sabah was honoured to be chosen once again to host the national Christmas open house.

‘Sabah with its colourful mix of multi-ethnic and multi religious peoples, is a fine example of a land that that lives in harmony and has respect for one another in spite of their different religious or ethnic backgrounds.

The crowd at the National Christmas Open House. SNT Pix/Mohd Adam Arinin

“Malaysians in Sabah, have over the years, time and again, shown high tolerance for each other and frown on those trying to split the unity of the people in the state,” he said.

According to him, the tolerance and perhaps the easy-going lifestyle of the people help create better understanding in our multi-ethnic society.

“No matter how some people with vested interest try to create animosity in Sabah, it fails to take root as most people in this state rise above the extremist elements aimed at breaking up our society.

“I believe that this has got to do with the people’s way of life in Sabah and the very fact that inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages over the decades have bonded the people together and they now see themselves as one.

“We see many various types of extreme elements taking different forms trying to break these bonds that unite the people, but the people of Sabah have always risen above it seeing themselves as one working together in a big family,” he said.

Mohd Shafie said the Malaysia Christmas Open House 2018 is a translation of the unity spirit that formed the fabric of Malaysian society.

“We do not see our differences in race and religion as an obstacle to make Malaysia into a nation of excellence.

“Although the Federal Constitution defines Islam as the official religion of our country, we are free to practice other faiths without restriction or limitation from any party.

“Although Christian communities in Malaysia are smaller in comparison with other religious communities, Christmas Day is celebrated on a large scale every year and those of different faiths can take part without any feeling of prejudice or negative thoughts,” he said.

In this respect, Mohd Shafie said as the people herald a New Malaysia, it was important for every Malaysian irrespective of their race and religion to celebrate this unity in diversity to develop and bring the country to greater heights.

“Sadly, as we see in some parts of our beloved Malaysia, has created a certain degree of racial and religious distrust among some groups.

“As a multi-racial country, I believe that we must steer away from these kinds of politics but work towards building a Malaysia where we live in peace and harmony irrespective of where we come from or what religion or race we belong to,” he said.

Nonetheless, as a plural society, Malaysias are still able to celebrate even Christmas Day with goodwill and joy despite their differences.

‘Therefore, we should be grateful for the blessings that we have and we should always appreciate the significance of such celebrations and make it an opportunity to further strengthen togetherness, goodwill and harmony,” he said.-SabahNewsToday