KUCHING, Dec 24 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg has asked Sarawakians to continue keeping the practice of respecting each other’s religious beliefs and avoiding religious sensitivities.
He said for a long time Sarawakians, be they Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or others, have always strived to strengthen the friendship and brotherhood among themselves.
“We must take pride in the fact that other people outside the state have recognised us as a united people,” he said in his Christmas Day’s message today.
He said followers of other faiths are also sharing the joy and happiness of Christmas, adding that religion has never been a big issue among the people of Sarawak.
He cited a unique case in Miri where on Friday a church in Lutong would lend its carpark to Muslims attending Friday prayers at a neighbouring mosque and on Sunday the mosque lends it carpark to Christians attending Sunday services.
“And in Mukah you have Melanau Christian and Muslim families living under one roof without any issue at all.
“Where can you find this happening in other parts of Malaysia?” he asked.
He said as the chief minister he is also looking after the interest of other communities and other faiths.
“This is the reason why we have formed a Unit for Other Religions or UNIFOR in the Chief Minister’s Department that primarily looks after the interest and welfare of people of other religions, besides Islam in Sarawak,” he said.
Abang Johari said he has allocated RM15 million this year to UNIFOR to assist other religions, religious bodies and organisations with their activities, build and repair houses of worship.
“I sincerely hope that with this financial assistance our non-Muslim friends will be able to complete what they have set out to do and have comfortable places of worship,” he added.