Perutusan Krismas dan Tahun Baharu 2017 oleh Ketua Menteri Sarawak

First let me extend a very warm greeting to all Sarawakians from the Christian faith who are celebrating Christmas. On behalf of my family I would like to wish all our Christians friends, a happy and merry Christmas.

Sarawak is a land where people of many different races and religious beliefs live together happily side by side. Many years ago when there was a racial riot in another part of the country we in Sarawak regarded it only as a “rumble in the distant hills”.

Of late, when there was a great deal of social tension on issues of race and religion, we in Sarawak kept our cool and refused to be drawn into debates that are very divisive in nature.
Sarawakians are like brothers and sisters who have much respect for one another’s culture and religion. In some parts of Sarawak there are Christian and Muslim families that stay together under the same roof.

They are able to stay together and religion is of no issue because they belief that “your religion is your religion and my religion is my religion”. That’s the way it has been for us in Sarawak for the last hundred years and that’s the way it should be all the time in the future.

For the last so many years, there has been no hindrance and issue at all to religious freedom in Sarawak. We are free to worship as we wish; Christians are free to use the word “Allah” as they used to and there will be no “Hudud” in Sarawak.

Christmas is a time of great rejoicing and celebrations for our Christian friends. People of other religions also shared in the joy and festivities as this has been our practice. We make it a point to send greetings to our friends and make the effort to visit them according to our open house tradition.

The open house tradition is a unique facet of our shared cultured that we must continue to nurture and cherish for the sake of our unity and harmony which is so vital for the continuous development of Sarawak.

We cannot forever be a commodity-based economy. The time has already come for the creation of more downstream industries in order to process our raw materials such as natural gas, timber and silica sand into products that can fetch much greater value than when they are exported raw.

With the implementation of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy Programme or SCORE, Sarawak is well on the road to industrialisation with more and more investment from overseas. SCORE has attracted 21 investments worth RM33.50 billion which is generating over 17,000 employment opportunities, especially in the Samalaju industrial zone in Bintulu.

We have the advantage of being able to provide relatively cheap hydro-power that we are harnessing from our rivers to run the industries.

We have high hopes that the Pan-Borneo Highway will become another factor to propel Sarawak’s economy in the decade to come. Just yesterday our Prime Minister launched eight work packages of the project that cover the distance from Sematan to Miri.

Although the packages were launched yesterday or the days before, I believe many of you who travel from Sematan to Miri have seen that works in some packages have already started. Pan-Borneo highway is not empty talk and it is steadily becoming a reality.

While on the road to greater things ahead, we must not forget our duty to care for and preserve our environment. We must keep Sarawak’s natural environment as pristine as we can. It takes thousands of years for a tree to grow but only takes a few minutes to cut it down.

The first few things that I did when I assumed office was to stop giving timber concessions, stop issuing permits to set up commercial plantations on state land and fight against illegal logging. Uncontrolled and indiscriminate clearing of our forest must be stopped to preserve our forest and protect our flora and fauna. Our forest with all its diversity is our heritage that we must protect.

As part of the 53 actions and iniative that we took in the last two years or so, we have made English as Sarawak’s second official language after Bahasa Malaysia. We need to be proficient in English because it is an international language used in the expansion of knowledge, trade and commerce.

I believe we can master the language without downgrading Bahasa Malaysia as our national language. We are prepared to support private institutions, secular or religious, that are providing environment conducive to the teaching and learning of English.

Saudara dan saudari sekalian,

Pada musim perayaan ini, saya menyeru kepada seluruh masyarakat di negeri ini untuk meneruskan tradisi ziarahi-menziarahi rakan-rakan kita yang tidak seagama atau sebudaya dengan kita.

Kepada masyarakat bukan-Kristian, berkunjunglah ke rumah terbuka rakan-rakan kita yang beragama Kristian pada musim perayaan krismas ini.

Pada kesempatan ini juga saya mengucapkan selamat menyambut tahun baru 2017 kepada seluruh warga Sarawak di mana sahaja saudara dan saudari berada.

Dalam kita berada di ambang meninggalkan tahun 2016 dan melangkah ke tahun 2017, saya mengajak saudara dan saudari sekalian untuk terus mengukuhkan iltizam kita untuk menyumbang kepada keharmonian dan kemajuan Negeri Sarawak dalam apa jua kapasiti dan peranan.

Akhir kata, sekali lagi saya dan keluarga mengucapkan Selamat Hari Krismas kepada saudara dan saudari yang merayakan hari Krismas dan selamat tahun baru 2017 kepada semua rakyat Negeri Sarawak.

Bergembiralah di samping keluarga dan sahabat handai.

Sekian, terima kasih.