Yayasan 1Malaysia notes that Sarawak State Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has announced publicly that there is a move to proclaim Kuching as ‘ Bandaraya Perpaduan’, the ‘City of Unity.’

The move is the initiative of Yayasan 1Malaysia (YIM), the 1Malaysia Foundation, which is a civil society group established in July 2009 to promote unity among the diverse communities that constitute the Malaysian Federation.

The idea of projecting a city as a ‘City of Unity’ was adopted at a meeting of the Y1M in December 2014. It was mooted by Dr. Peter Kedit, a member of the YIM Board of Trustees, from Sarawak.

Kuching would be the first ‘City of Unity’ in the world.

Over a period of two months or so, Y1M, mainly through its Manager, Ms. Ong Yuen Ling,  researched into the history and evolution of Kuching as a city and produced a paper which shows why Kuching deserves to be known as a ‘City of Unity.’ It is made up of people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who have lived in relative peace and harmony for a considerable period of time. With a population of over 600,000, it has a stable administrative structure that caters for the interests of the different ethnic and religious groups.  Employment opportunities are available to all in the public and private sectors. Schools are by and large multi-ethnic and multi-religious and provide scholarships and other forms of assistance to all, regardless of ethnic or religious backgrounds. Many cultural and recreational activities draw upon the diverse city population. Bahasa Sarawak, a variation of Bahasa Malaysia, is widely spoken and has enhanced interaction among the different communities. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages are common accounting for perhaps 30 percent of marriages in Sarawak every year. Families of different ethnic and religious affiliations interact amicably, often leaving their children in the care of a family of a different background without any qualms. There is at the same time a great deal of understanding about the distinct religious and cultural norms of the different communities.

YIM’s arguments for presenting Kuching as a ‘City of Unity’ were submitted to three prominent Sarawakians for their evaluation. The panel not only endorsed the proposal but also provided valuable inputs and insights which strengthened further the case for Kuching as a ‘City for Unity’.

YIM’s paper on Kuching and the views of the eminent Sarawakians were presented to the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem at a meeting between the Yayasan 1Malaysia leadership and the Chief Minister at the latter’s Office in Kuching on the 7th of April 2015. The Chief Minster was enthusiastic about the idea. He saw its larger significance in promoting the cause of unity and integration beyond Kuching and Sarawak especially at a time like this when religious divisions in Malaysia are getting more pronounced.

Tan Sri Adenan has now directed the State Government to spearhead the process of presenting Kuching as a ‘City of Unity.’ It is in that context that Abang Johari’s announcement yesterday is important.  YIM will cooperate fully with the Sarawak State Government as it carries out activities that will add substance and meaning to Kuching’s status as ‘Bandaraya Perpaduan.’

It is Yayasan 1Malaysia’s hope that on the 1st of August — the day Kuching was bestowed with city status 27 years ago — the Chief Minister will proclaim Kuching as  a ‘ City of Unity’ which will serve as a role  model for other cities and towns in Malaysia, and indeed in other parts of the world.

External Link: https://www.theborneopost.com/2015/05/27/kuching-picked-as-model-city-of-national-unity/

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