KUCHING, Dec 24 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, in his Christmas message today, reminded the people of various faiths that unbridled religious bigotry will impede the state’s progress and stability.

He said the ruling state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has been doing its part to nurture religious freedom.

“The freedom to worship will continue to be a bastion of our democracy in Sarawak,” Uggah, who is also the minister in charge of Unit for Other Religions (UNIFOR), said.

He urged Sarawakians to share and enjoy each other's celebrations free of prejudice.

“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. 

“This is the tradition we need to preserve and strengthen to become the most progressive state by the year 2030,” Uggah said.

He said UNIFOR, which was initiated by former Chief Minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and continued by his successor Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, is the reflection of the Sarawak government's policy on religious freedom.

Uggah said the chief minister has approved a sum of RM50 million for UNIFOR for next year while a sum of RM30 million was allocated this year.

He said the first phase of its aid distribution, a sum of RM19.1 million had been disbursed to 109 projects and under the second phase the balance of RM10.9 million will be distributed next year.

“In addition, under Projek Rakyat 2019, Abang Johari has approved 16 other projects costing RM16.2 million,” he said, adding that since UNIFOR’s inception in April 2017 until October this year, it has received a total of 667 applications for assistance.

He said an earth breaking ceremony for UNIFOR office complex will be held next year.