KUCHING: The Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has called on the Sarawak Evangelical Christian Association (SECA) to be a liaison between the State government and various churches under the association with 28,000 followers in the state. He said this was due to the setting up of Unit For Other Religions (UNIFOR) by the state government to look after the religious affairs of the non-Muslims in the state.
“I believe that the SECA can play a very important role and help the state government in connecting and coordinating matters with the local churches.
“Based on the objectives and vision of the SECA, I am grateful and welcome the initiative and desire of the churches to work with the government in a more positive direction,” he said in his speech text read by his representative, Datu Dr Ngenang Jangu, who is also the Director of UNIFOR during the launching dinner of SECA here on Monday.
Uggah said that the willingness of SECA to work closely with the different churches in Sarawak and already embracing 34 members from different churches have received praise from the state government. He also believed that the state government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Johari Tun Openg, will continue to practise religious freedom and harmony in Sarawak. “Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia with formal government agencies that take care of non-Muslims in the state.
UNIFOR is the inspiration of the former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and continues to receive strong support from the current Chief Minister,” he said. Uggah pointed out that UNIFOR plays an important role in promoting religious freedom and harmony through its efforts to facilitate and coordinate activities in applying for sites and repair of worship houses from the state government. “The state government through UNIFOR has approved a total of RM17 million to assist religious organisations to build and renovate 77 places of worship.
This year RM20 million has been approved which is distributed to over 200 places of worship,” he said. He added that the unit could also learn and act as a mediator or as an advisory body to resolve any religious conflicts which affect inter-religious relations.
Meanwhile, Chairman of SECA Pastor Matthew Ling also called on more evangelical churches in the state to become SECA members to enable the association to voice their wishes to the state government through UNIFOR.
“The SECA was formally established under the Registrar of Societies on 15 March 2017. We started with eight members in March last year,” he said. He added currently the SECA had 34 members with over 200 churches and combined followers of 28,000 people and revealed that many evangelical churches in the state were not members of the organisation.