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‘Acceptance vital to ensure there is unity’

Conny Banji, reporters@theborneopost.com

Wong (right) greets Revd Ferdinand Vergeer from the Netherlands. At left is Bernama Sibu reporter Frank Julian Martin.

SIBU: Unity can only exist when there is acceptance and everyone can find their rightful place in society, said Second Minister of Finance Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

He said it is vital for citizens to feel wanted and not alienated.

“Only then the nation can really achieve real and lasting unity. We must know that greater unity cannot be brought about if we remain compartmentalised or, worse, polarised,” he said during ‘Sarawak Celebrates: Interfaith Christmas Celebration 2017’ on Wednesday.

“We must break down the barriers that can create psychological divides, which all of us must try to overcome.”

He said it is important to have concern for each other’s feelings, sincerity and to value unity for the good of all.

“As we celebrate this occasion, we want to send a message to all those who want to create disharmony, rifts, divisions and racial polarisation among the people that they (the people) will not be divided, they are one, they are together, they have social cohesion and solidarity as one community,” added Wong.

“We shall all be guided by common ideas and wishes that all of us should live in peace and harmony with one another regardless of race and religion and that we should respect one another.”

Jointly organised by the Sibu Resident Office, Sibu District Office and Association of Churches Sarawak (ACS) Sibu, ‘Sarawak Celebrates’ is among the state’s initiatives to foster and strengthen solidarity among the various races.

Sibu Resident Hii Chang Kee said he was proud to see the positive response towards the interfaith gathering.

“It is even a greater hope that after a while, our interfaith gathering could move from a deliberate effort to become a culture or a way of life in Sibu.

“Only when we understand each other well can we live and go along with each other harmoniously and in great tolerance,” he said.

Among those present were ACS chairman Revd Datuk Dr Justin Wan, ACS secretary-general Elder Ambrose Linang, and ACS Sibu chairperson Pastor Ting Leh Na.