By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, Dec 26: Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has approved the construction of a second Christian columbarium in Sarawak worth RM8.5 million.
He publicly gave the green light for the project when attending the Anglican Christmas Open House at St Thomas’s Cathedral Church here today.
“On your proposed columbarium, okay (it is approved), you (can) get it (funds) from Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Uggah who is the minister-in-charge of Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) said the Unit will supervise the project.
He also disclosed that apart from the columbarium, the ongoing construction of the RM3 million House of Epiphany near St Thomas’s Church, also approved by Abang Johari, is 90 per cent completed.
At the same time, Anglican Bishop of Kuching, the Rt Revd Datuk Danald Jute, said the St Thomas’s Church standing committee submitted the proposal for the columbarium project to Sarawak Planning Authority (SPA) some time last year and it was subsequently approved.
“In the years to come, a columbarium is the way forward rather than the traditional burial because people are more mobile and have no time for visiting the graveyard, for example.
“With the columbarium, they know that the remains of their loved ones will be taken care of without any need for frequent visits and so on. Thus, we are truly grateful that the Premier understands this need but more importantly, he gives us the financial backing,” he told reporters after the event.
He also said the new columbarium may be slightly bigger than the first and currently sole existing columbarium in Sarawak – the Roman Catholic columbarium at St Peter’s Church.
“The project will start in April 2023 such as opening of tender, but not the physical commencement. We will see the physical construction to start before the yearend.
“The construction project is expected to take about 18 months with a possible delay of four to five months,” he added.
The columbarium is one of the three projects under St Thomas’s Church approved by SPA. The other two are a kindergarten and a youth centre.
“The estimated total cost of the three projects is RM26 million,” Danald said.
Amongst those present were the Premier’s wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, and Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. — DayakDaily