KUCHING - Sarawakians must resist racist tendencies which are already rearing their ugly head in the peninsula, says Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
Speaking at the declaration of Kuching as a "City of Unity" yesterday, Adenan warned against the influence of extremism, saying that the worst that was happening in "Malaya" must not be accepted in Sarawak.
"Here, we aren't Chinese, Iban, Orang Ulu or Indians; here we are Sarawakians, we are the same. We are not like Malaya, always disagreeing," Adenan said to loud cheers at Stadium Perpaduan.
"In these troubled times - when there is dissent among the races, religions and cultures - let us in Kuching, let us in Sarawak, show them how to live together peacefully. Even though we are of separate cultures, we can and we will live in peace.
"Let us maintain that tradition, not just to attract foreigners, tourists or investments, but for ourselves."
The "City of Unity" declaration is from the Yayasan 1Malaysia. Mooted last December, the foundation surveyed several urban centres nationwide and decided that the Sarawak capital would be the first to take the title.
Trustee board member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said Kuching deserved the recognition as it was "truly the right example for all Malaysians to follow".
Asked if Kuala Lumpur should be considered for the "City of Unity" title as well, he replied: "We'll wait and see."
In Adenan's speech, he attributed multi-culturalism to turning Kuching from a "sleepy hollow" to a vibrant city.
The declaration was to coincide with the launch of a month-long celebration of Kuching's 27th anniversary as a city. City south mayor Datuk James Chan said Kuching's success was because its leaders preached diversity rather than assimilation.
"Kuching is more like popiah or rojak, rather than a melting pot," he said.
The city's north mayor Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai spoke about the importance of inner peace, stating that any individual without it would be unable to show respect and tolerance.