KUCHING: At first glance, Kampung Muara Tebas is a typical Malay fishing village fronting the estuary of the Sarawak River, drawing tourists and fishermen supplying their daily catch to the seafood restaurants and cottage industries there.
However, it never crossed one’s mind that a 200-year Chinese temple – declared a historical building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993 – and a Muslim cemetery have become symbols of racial harmony and religious tolerance for the villagers in Muara Tebas.
In the village, the Ching San Yen temple stands majestically up on the hills near the Muslim cemetery while a mosque is beautifully built close to the Chinese cemetery, which the locals have no qualms about.
Muara Tebas village headman, Seman Rasit, 60, said the harmony pillar of his village was the people’s strong understanding and tolerance.
“We can see how harmonious our relationship is when the Malay community has access to the temple ground and use it as a passage to their cemetery for burial and so does the Chinese community when they have to pass through the mosque to get to their cemetery,” he told Bernama here today.
“We don’t see any issues that might cause trouble to the villagers,” he said, adding that any problem could be discussed through the Village Development and Security Committee or relevant non-governmental organisations.
Meanwhile 80-year-old Chung Fung Moi, the guardian of the Chinese temple, said that the Malay villagers have become her second family for the past 30 years ago, whereby a spirit of give-and-take is the norm.
“Any rituals and prayers that Malay and Chinese communities do when someone passes away, is a dime a dozen for both (of us) because we think it is unique and we should show respect to whatever culture and belief we practise,” she said.
Seafood restaurant owner Allen Lim, 40, said his family had been in the business for 60 years and had built a strong bond with the villagers, providing them with jobs while the fishermen in the village sold their catch to the restaurant for sustenance.
Fisherman Razali Mohammad, 45, said since his father’s generation they had been selling their catch to the restaurant, adding “today we are helping each other not just by selling them seafood but also assuring the safety of the area by patrolling around the village at night”.
To enjoy the magnificent views of Kampung Muara Tebas and its estuary that leads to the South China Sea and its offering of fresh seafood, visitors must drive 30 to 45 minutes from the city centre. — Bernama