Minister: Unifor grants must reflect real needs, not fantasy figures

Uggah (second left) flanked by Unifor director Datu Jack Aman (left) and Deputy State Secretary Datu Buckland Bangik (right), presenting a cheque to a representative of Nangka assemblyman Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, April 23: Houses of worship requesting funds from the Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) are reminded that their applications must be based on actual needs or costs, said Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

In a press statement issued today, the Deputy Premier of Sarawak and minister-in-charge of Unifor, stated that it was illogical for houses of worship to provide high estimates for construction or upgrades simply because they believe the unit has a lot of money to spare.


“Such perception is illogical and Unifor is not a cash cow,” he was quoted as saying in the press statement.

Uggah made the remarks during a grants handover programme held today at his office here.

The grants, totalling RM14.335 million under Unifor’s first tranche of payment, were handed over to finance 32 different projects in 20 state constituencies throughout Sarawak.

“I’ve noticed a recent trend in some places of presenting extremely high estimates. What should cost RM2 million, for example, costs RM6 million.

“Some organisations are also overly ambitious. They have about 200 members but are planning a church, chapel, or temple that will cost several million ringgit.

“And just because we approved, say, a RM2 million grant for a specific church, chapel, or temple, those in the same area (think that they) should receive the same amount if they apply for aid. This is again illogical,” the minister stressed.

In light of this, Uggah stated that elected representatives must assist in studying and verifying the actual funds required.

“This also includes informing Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg of any such requests made during his visits to the ground. Our officers and architects will also be on the ground to verify,” he added.

Regarding another matter, the minister reminded the aid recipients once more to start their projects as soon as they cash their checks.

“Our policy is that Unifor will not entertain further requests for funds if you fail to utilise the first allocation given, even though we know you still need them.”

Uggah further noted that the government’s intention was to see that all funds were used properly.

“It will defeat our purpose if the funds are not used appropriately or immediately.

“It is mandatory for the houses of worship to submit their regular progress reports to update Unifor on their construction or upgrading status and spending.”

According to Uggah, the Premier allocated RM110 million to Unifor this year.

“This is inclusive of the RM20 million to assist mission schools, which we are in the process of doing the distribution,” he added.

Among those receiving the cheques on behalf of their constituencies were the Sarawak Minister for Women, Early Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Sarawak Deputy Transport Minister, Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, as well as Sarawak Deputy Ministers for Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts, Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew.

Others were Pakan assemblyman Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, Opar assemblyman Billy Sujang, Kota Sentosa assemblyman Wilfred Yap Yau Sin, and Bukit Semuja assemblyman John Ilus. — DayakDaily