KUCHING, Dec 24: The Sarawak government has not only been upholding religious freedom but is taking a step further to make sure that all religions are growing through the Unit For Other Religions (Unifor).
According to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, this is a reflection of the Sarawak government’s policy of inclusiveness.
“Our state GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government is doing its part to nurture our religious freedom. The freedom to worship will continue to be a bastion of our democracy.
“As a matter of fact Sarawak is taking this freedom a step further where non-Islamic religions are assisted in their well-being and growth through its Unit For Other Religions or Unifor.
“Unifor is the reflection of the Sarawak government’s inclusiveness policy. Grants for the physical development, repairs or renovation of the various houses of worship besides securing construction site are channelled through Unifor,” Uggah disclosed in his Christmas message for 2019.
Apart from looking into the needs of various houses of worship, an equally important task for Unifor is to get land for cemeteries for various communities and religious bodies.
Created by the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and continued by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Unifor extends assistance to various regions bodies.
“For this year, YAB Abang Jo has approved a sum of RM30 million for Unifor. Under the first phase of its aid distribution, a sum of RM19.1million had been disbursed for 109 projects.
“The second phase involving the balance of RM10.9 billion will be done next year. In addition, under his Projek Rakyat 2019, Abang Jo had approved 16 other projects costing RM16.2 million,” Uggah added.
He further revealed that since since Unifor’s inception in April, 2017 until October this year, it has received a total of 667 applications for assistance and the list is getting longer each day.
To cater for its needs, a Unifor office complex will be erected after an earth-breaking ceremony scheduled for next year.
“It is my great pleasure to announce that for next year (2020), our Abang Jo has graciously consented to allocate a sum of RM50 million to Unifor. This is certaintly a great Christmas gift to all Christians and other non-Islamic faithfuls,” Uggah added.
Pointing out that Christmas is a season to be jolly as Christians renew and strengthen their faith as well as their ties and relationships with family members and everyone else especially those of different faiths, Uggah highlighted Sarawakians have been sharing in and enjoying each other’s festive celebrations free of prejudice, suspicion or manmade hindrances.
“Whenever we are together, we are free to pray in our respective faith. Similarly, we do not see any evil in greeting each other during our respective religious celebrations.”
He noted this is the tradition Sarawakians are preserving and strengthening in order to achieve the goal of being the most progressive state by the year 2030.
“Unbridled religious bigotry will impede, even kill our progress and stability,” he cautioned. — DayakDaily