Sarawak polls: Lutong Muslims and Christians praised for special bond

MIRI: Christians and Muslims at a church and mosque built next to each other in Lutong bazaar, north of Miri City, have been praised for their special bond.

SUPP vice-president Datuk Lee Kim Shin hailed the latest move by the church and mosque to jointly upgrade their common carpark area through mutual cooperation.

The state authorities want to promote the Anglican Good Shepherd Church Lutong and the Masjid An Naim, which are built just less than 100m from each other, as venues for discussions and conferences on racial unity and religious harmony, he said when symbolically declaring open the upgraded carpark on Thursday.

The event reflects the very special multiracial bond between people of all faiths in Sarawak, he said.

On Fridays, the church opens its gates to allow Muslims to park their vehicles during prayer time.

On Sundays, the mosque opens its gates to allow churchgoers to use the car park.

On special occasions like Christmas and buka puasa season, Muslims and Christians come together for joint gatherings.

Lee, who is defending the Senadin seat, said the state government is pleased to see such unique racial and religious unity in Miri.

“This is unequal in any part of the country. Where else can you find churches, mosques and temples sharing facilities with each other, and sharing food and fellowship like families?

“We must preserve this at all costs because it is a unique treasure.

“Being able to enjoy such sincere religious and racial acceptance is priceless,” he said.

Pastor Donald said the mosque and church have been sharing carparks for past 50 years.

“It has become a way of life for us to share carparks and meet for gatherings. To us Muslims and Christians we are one big family,” he said.

Pastor Donald said it is natural for the mosque and church people to help each other during public gatherings.

“This spirit of mutual acceptance comes naturally here,” he said.

Mosque committee chairman Ithnaini Bohari said it is not unusual for Muslims here to share whatever facilities and occassions with Christians and Chinese.

“It is so natural to us that it is part of our daily way of life,” he said.

Lee said the spirit of moderation in Sarawak will be preserved and the state government under Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem will spare no effiort on keeping out extremist elements from the state.

“I propose that this mosque and church be used as venues for seminars on interracial and inter-religious understanding,” he said.

Lee said he will meet with Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to discuss the idea.