KOTA SAMARAHAN, Sept 30 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah has called on all Sarawakians to continue to zealously preserve their strong racial unity and religious harmony as a model state in Malaysia.
He reminded that racial and religious tensions are harmful for the state’s development.
“We have these trying times elsewhere where people are having problems living together,” he said at the consecration of the St Francis’ Church here last night, referring to Peninsular Malaysia where racial and religious issues have often been raised.
“We in Sarawak are very fortunate because of our tradition of strong racial and religious unity and harmony.
“In Sarawak, people of different faiths have no qualms sitting down together to have dinner,” he said, pointing out that the Stakan state assemblyman Datuk Sri Mohammad Ali Mahmud as an example of a Muslim joining the celebration of the completion of St Francis’ Church building.
“He is a Muslim, sitting with us and he used to call me often to request for funds to build or upgrade churches, chapels and other houses of worship in his area,” he said, adding that such requests from a Muslim state lawmaker only happen in Sarawak.
Uggah, who is also the Second Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the Unit For Other Religions (UNIFOR) has received 667 applications from all non-Islamic religions for financial assistance since its establishment in April 2017.
“I will have to appeal to the state government to make available even more funds,” Uggah, who is the minister in charge of UNIFOR, said.
He added for the years 2017 to 2018, the unit approved 373 applications for church construction, renovation or upgrading works amounting to RM50 million.
He said for this year, an allocation of RM60 million has been approved by the state govermnent, including the amount approved by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg in his tours of the state.
Later Uggah handed over a grant of RM500,000by the state government to the church building fund.
The church was built at a cost of RM5 million.