Welcome to all those who have balik kampung from all over the world to celebrate this very special day together with their families, especially those from this rather unique Sarawak.
I think that on returning home, one of the first things they will notice, but just accepted when growing up here, is the level of acceptance and mutual respect in our society not always found elsewhere.
Sarawak has developed its uniqueness over the centuries from its relative isolation, never having been on a major trade route like Singapore and never having been the center of an empire like Srivijaya in the 8th to 12th centuries.
Over the centuries, but not without the occasional short-term interruption, we in Sarawak have developed an unquestioning level of acceptance… our very varied peoples, our widely varied lifestyles, our many religions, and our various mother tongues.
Not only honoring but indeed active recognition and participation in our many religious festivities is part of our uniqueness.
Open houses are an important feature in Hari Raya celebrations, enabling friends and colleagues from other faiths to celebrate together.
While celebrating this Hari Raya after a month of disciplined fasting, prayers and reflection we have been much affected by the extreme climate change.
The extraordinary climate change has brought record-breaking torrential rains, floods, landslides/mudslides and droughts as well as uncontrollable wildfires, oven-like heatwaves and freezing winters. Thousands of people have perished…
The worst is yet to come!
Earth Day is a day to remind us of the fragile environment we are in.
We must live in harmony with nature, and it is the only way to assure our own survival.
We must go green and go for renewal energy — solar and wind — and totally phase out coal and anything that will pollute our planet. We must move on to save our planet Earth!
As part of Hari Raya celebrations, I would like to ask that all of us toast our uniqueness and pledge to uphold it into the future.
We thank our Muslim brothers and sisters for their contributions in all fields of human endeavors.
Selamat Hari Raya…Maaf Zahid dan Batin!
(Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon is Sarawak social activist, philanthropist, founder of St John’s Ambulance Sarawak.)