KUCHING: On July 4 last year Sarawak-Indians in general and Kuching-Indians in particular were pleasantly surprised by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg when he announced a special gift of RM2.3 million as a matching grant to the fund-raising effort of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple committee here led by it’s president Shankar Ram Asnani.
Yesterday Deputy Chief Minister who is Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister and also the Minister-in-Charge of the Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) in the Chief Minister’s Department, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, met with local Indian leaders to present the cheque for the amount which will be used for the construction of a multi-purpose hall, a new temple building and a road to the temple at Batu Lintang.
The contribution is the manifestation of a promise made earlier by Chief Minister.
Uggah explained that this was part of a commitment made by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to include all races and religions under its rule.
On its part, Unifor will monitor the progress of its projects throughout Sarawak to make sure that they are implemented successfully.
The unit will also verify new applications for projects to be implemented this year before presenting them to its evaluation committee for further consideration.
The government spent approximately RM35 million in 2018 on Unifor projects and Uggah foresees an increase in such spending upon receipt of extra revenue from the five percent tax it has imposed on oil and gas exports originating from Sarawak.
In his short statement, Shankar said the granting of the RM2.3 million showed that the chief minister was a sincere leader who wants to see all communities in Sarawak happy and prosperous.
“This is the true spirit of inclusivity and will ensure a prosperous and united Sarawak,” he said.
“I must also sincerely thank all those who have rendered invaluable assistance to us.”
Lucy Lingam, the Sarawak Indian Women Association president who was also present during the handing over of the cheque commended the GPS government for its far-sightedness in creating Unifor.
She commented that this was a first in many ways not just for Sarawak but for Malaysia, and she predicted that many other governments will learn the mechanisms put in place by GPS.
“I have always been a proud Sarawakian and the creation and implementation of Unifor confirms my thinking that Sarawak is the ideal place to live now and in the future.” – S. Sivanesan