KUCHING: The Sarawak government’s commitment to foster religious unity and understanding is not merely in words but also in deeds, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the state government had set up the Unit for Other Religions or UNIFOR to assist non-Muslims to build or carry out repairs to their houses of worship.
“This year, RM20 million was allocated to UNIFOR and I believe, many have benefited from this initiative, which you may not find in other states.
“Next year the approved allocation is RM30 million and let me give the reassurance that the state government will continue to provide the fund so that many more can benefit from it in the future,” he said in his Christmas and New Year message here Monday.
Abang Johari said Sarawak is a land where people of other religions also shared in the joy and festivities as this had been the practice all the while.
“We are able to stay together and religions do not create walls between us because we belief that ‘your religion is your religion and my religion is my religion’. That’s the way it has been for us in Sarawak for the last hundred years and that’s the way it should be in the future,” he said.
In another development, Abang Johari said the state government had decided to self-finance implementation of several road, bridge and electricity and water supply projects in Sarawak.
He said most of the projects would be carried out through open tender beginning the first half of next year.
“I have announced the biggest ever budget in history for Sarawak of RM10.4 billion in the 2019 state budget and the state is able to do so as we impose tax on petroleum, as well as on petroleum and gas-based products for export.
“This new tax allows Sarawak to provide a large budget without using the existing state’s reserves.
The state’s reserves will not be touched, but will continue to be strengthened,” he added.