KUCHING, Sept 9 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today requested churches and other non-Islamic religious organisations to provide feedback on how the Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) that provides financial assistance to them can improve itself.
“Our objective is after all to give you the best of our service. But we need feedback, both bouquets and brickbats, for us to move forward,” he said at the 29th Biennial Diocesan Synod and a fundraising dinner for the unit’s proposed building the New House of Epiphany here last night.
“We might not have been able to address issues in the most appropriate ways so give us your feedback for us to improve,” Uggah, who is also the minister in-charge of the unit, said.
He assured that Unifor would continue to look into issues such as financing the construction or renovation of churches, temples, chapels or getting sites for new ones.
“We are also helping to look for state land for new graveyards as well,” he said.
Uggah said the state government had allocated a sum of RM15 million to Unifor in 2017, RM20 million in 2018 and RM30 million this year, hoping that bigger allocation would be given to the unit next year as the state has extra income from the sales tax on petroleum and petroleum products.
He also thanked Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg for his commitment to the unit, including approving grants totalling RM27.5 million to help the various non-Islamic faiths this year.
Uggah said Abang Johari has also allocated a 1.3ha piece of prime land in Kuching for the construction of the unit’s office building, the New House of Epiphany.
He said the architectural design of the building will depict the images of enduring racial and religious harmony in the state.
He added the unit is also in the process of setting up its board of trustees to come up with its own fund to finance socio- economic activities.
Uggah, who is the minister of agriculture, native land and regional development, called on the Anglican church to encourage its parishioners from its 40 parishes state-wide to help in the state agriculture transformation programmes.
“Sarawak is moving into modern farming. Your parishioners can help. Modern farming system like fertigation is a good choice as it is not land or labour intensive.
“With the right knowledge and proper management later, farmers can get very good harvests of fruits and vegetables,” he added,
He later announced a grant of RM400,000 for St Thomas’ Cathedral here to organise a number of activities next year.