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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Feb 24: The Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) has set up two new sections, namely the Council of Elders and Trust Fund.
Unifor’s Minister-in-charge Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Council of Elders would start next month. They already have 10 leaders from various religious groups in the state.
The Council of Elders is similar to ‘advisors’, where they will assemble, sit down and discuss any issues within their group and any issues with Muslims.
“This is to ensure that whatever misunderstanding that may crop up in the future will be dealt with in a peaceful and admissible manner. The council must first work out among themselves any issues pertaining to the non-Muslim group and then work out other issues pertaining to the Muslim group, if any,” Uggah said at the earth-breaking and cheque presentation for the new House of the Epiphany building today.
As for the Trust Fund, he explained that Unifor was a platform where non-Islamic religious bodies could seek funds to build their respective houses of worship or for upgrading or repair of existing buildings.
“Unifor’s function is confined to assisting the infrastructure of non-Islamic institutions. Therefore, under the current development fund that the state government channelled to Unifor, we cannot use this for other purposes.
“Moving forward, we’ve registered a Trust Fund so that we can look into other programmes, including social welfare of non-Muslims in the state,” he explained.
Sarawak is the only state in the country that has Unifor, which was created in mid-2017 to support, recognise and create an openness towards all other religions.
It is also a passage where Muslims and those of other religions can come together to discuss and foster a better understanding of each other’s faith as well as to forge tolerance, unity and harmony.
Uggah reiterated that this year, RM30 million had been allocated to Unifor to assist other religions (other than Islam) for the construction and repair of houses of worship in the state.
Last year, some 250 religious bodies had benefited from the RM20 million allocation, while in 2017, a sum of RM15 million was distributed to some 77 recipients. — DayakDaily