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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Oct 20: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg asserts that he is sincere in wanting to help non-Muslim religions in Sarawak by approving a piece of land and RM70 million to build the Unifor complex along Jalan Ong Tiang Swee here.
“When I told (Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas) Uggah (Embas) that we should have this building, everybody supports; (Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar) Awang Tengah (Ali Hasan), Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen) Rundi (Utom), (Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri) Dr Sim (Kui Hian), everybody supports. With that common stand today, 20.10.20, we are here to start a new building for Unifor (Unit for Other Religions).
“We have never dreamt of getting an extra RM3 billion from Petronas (Petroliam Nasional Berhad), because God is kind to us. We prayed. We fought. We won for our rights in imposing sales tax. That’s why we can assist in the construction of this building.
“But what is important is, if we are sincere, God will help us. Sarawakians are sincere in protecting the state and living in harmony,” Abang Johari said at the earth-breaking ceremony for the said complex here today.
Abang Johari who is also the Minister of Finance reiterated that his cabinet unanimously supported him in establishing Unifor to maintain the existing peace and harmony among peoples of all races and religions.
“In our Sarawak cabinet, we have one common philosophy: that religion is the cornerstone for the people to practise their faiths and the discipline to follow our own (respective) way of life
“This is the philosophy that we in the cabinet uphold. That’s why I have voiced out the need to look after other religions besides Islam. We developed Unifor because we think that it would be a good place for religious leaders to meet and discuss about religious issues and our ways of life.
“That’s why the leaders in GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) will hold steadfastly to this policy,” he said.
Citing a recent example, Abang Johari revealed that he had received a request for a mosque to be built for the Muslims in Belaga Town from Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagan, who is a non-Muslim.
“You know who asked me for that mosque in Belaga? It was YB Datuk Liwan Lagang. He is not a Muslim.
“He said, “Why not build a mosque in Belaga? I thought (it is) from an imam but from it is from Liwan. That is the beauty in Sarawak. A non-Muslim looking after the welfare of Muslims,” he stressed, adding that the government has also approved an allocation of RM10 million for a church to be built in Belaga.
Abang Johari disclosed that Liwan had also requested RM1 million each for the construction of a mosque and a church in the Kenyah Badeng village of Long Busang in Ulu Belaga.
“This is the beauty in Sarawak and we must protect it. Awang Tengah also just mentioned to me that he just approved a church allocation (sic) in Lawas,” he added.
On a related issue, the Chief Minister opined that religion encouraged discipline to develop good character and expressed hope that the people of Sarawak will continue to be faithful to their respective religions. — DayakDaily