Monday February 25, 2013
Taib says people must see for themselves how happy Sarawakians are
By YU JI
KUCHING: Without doubt, Kuching South City Council’s (MBKS) Chap Goh Mei celebration yesterday was the largest such event in recent memory, attracting tens of thousands. Even the number of lion dancers involved was impressive.
There were several dozens of them led by raucous drum beats of dozens more percussionists. Visitors gathered on the balcony of the just- completed extension of Dewan Masyarakat and at booths set up in the car park all day long.
Jackie Lim, a member of the Scouts Association of Malaysia, woke up bright at 7am to volunteer at the event.
“Today, my job is to distribute cakes and new year goodies. There are a lot of people. I didn’t know there would be this many,” Lim said.
MBKS’ Chap Goh Mei celebration was organised by the council staff with help from the private sector, who set up booths, offering promotions on real estate and dishing out ang pows.
Under canopies the size of football fields, participants young and old took part in singing competitions, while elsewhere, children had a ball at MBKS’ children’s playgrounds.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi Taib arrived, dressed in matching white and red attires, at 10am.
“This is the biggest Chap Goh Mei event I’ve ever seen. Until people learn how we can come together like this, I don’t think they know how happy we are,” Taib said in his speech.
“Today, thousands, not just the Chinese, have flocked to Kuching South. You can see all kinds of faces here. All of us, we are enjoying together. I’m saying this from the heart. We really enjoy ourselves during Chinese New Year, even though we are not Chinese. This is the kind of future we want in Kuching.
“You go throughout Sarawak and you’ll find this common wisdom of the Malays, Chinese, Iban, Bidayuhs and all the races living together.
“That does not mean we don’t have differences. There are a lot of differences, but the great thing is we come together in spite of these differences.”
The Chief Minister also spoke about Kuching’s growth, saying that social harmony required “continuous hard work” alongside infrastructure development.
“From 200,000 to 600,000 people, it needs quite a lot of effort to make sure that Kuching will still be a friendly city as it has been from the beginning. We cannot sit still and expect to be a multiracial society that works and prospers.”
Among those with Taib were his deputy Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin.
Invited dignitaries included Li Shugang, the Consul General of China in Kuching.