KUCHING, March 1 — Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud today said that foreign dignitaries are impressed with the racial and religious harmony that exists among the multi-ethnic groups in the state.
He said they often asked him when they make courtesy calls to him about how the communities in Sarawak are able to co-exist peacefully and treating each other with respect.
“I did not have a complete answer to give to these foreign dignitaries. I have only one answer for them that our communities have been living harmoniously all these years,” he said during the opening of the new Masjid India Bandar Kuching here.
Taib said such harmonious relationship not only exist among the ordinary people but also in schools and workplaces.
He said there is no other place like Sarawak where people of racial and religious backgrounds are able to co-exist for a long time without any form of conflicts.
He said he noticed that the relationship among the various communities in Sarawak is closer than in anyplace.
“We tend to look at this relationship as a normal thing because we have our common interest to take care for,” he said.
Meanwhile Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, in his speech, said Masjid India Bandar Kuching has a long history that many present generations may not know about.
He said it started as a small “pondok” for members of the Indian Muslim community, who came to trade in Sarawak in the 1700s, as a place to gather and pray.
Abang Johari believed that Masjid India Bandar Kuching will be a major tourist attraction.
“It is not too much for me to say that Masjid India will be the first impression for the tourists and non-Muslims towards Islam,” he said.
Work on the new Masjid India Bandar Kuching, located on the bank of Sarawak River, started in 2014 and it was completed early this year at a cost of RM22 million.