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Saberkas welcomes shelving of Race Relations Act

SIBU, 21 Jan 2009: Saberkas, Sarawak’s largest multiracial youth organisation with a membership of over 120,000, welcomes the cabinet decision to reject the proposed Race Relations Act.

Its deputy president, Datuk Amar Abang Haji Johari Tun Openg, said today the act was not necessary.

“If we want to forge good relationship among the various races in the country, it must be on the basis of voluntary interaction.

“If there is a law, it is as if there is the element of force for the people to mix around,” he told reporters here

Earlier, he presented Chinese New Year contributions from the organisation to about 100 children with special needs at the Sibu AGAPE Centre (a  community-based organisation for children with special needs).

Abang Johari, who is state Housing Minister, said that in Sarawak there was already a very strong culture of racial harmony among its over 26 racial groups.

On Saberkas, he said efforts had and would be made to woo more Chinese members who now comprised 15% of its total members.

He also said that Saberkas would hold its next triennial delegates meeting in Mukah town in April this year.

Meanwhile, in KUALA LUMPUR, a member of the National Unity Advisory Panel, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, described the cabinet’s decision to drop the idea of introducing a Race Relations Act as sensible and appropriate.

He suggested instead that a race relations institute be set up to conduct study, research and contribute ideas and programmes towards strengthening race relations to achieve unity. 

“It is pretty awkward for us to legislate on race relations” after 51 years of independence.

“We need to do some serious soul-searching and find out the root cause of the unsatisfactory state of race relations,” he said, adding that managing race relations must first start with the individual.

“If there is goodwill, harmony and unity in a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions, it will be reflected in how he or she treats others,” he said. — Bernama



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