KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas urged constituency representatives to submit their Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) request applications by Feb 15.

He said he wanted Unifor cheques to be issued earlier this year.

“I plan to have the handing-over ceremony in April,” he said during a Unifor cheque presentation ceremony (Phase 2, 2019) at UCSI Hotel here, yesterday.

Unifor yesterday disbursed an amount of RM10.9mil in cheques to 103 recipients in its second phase of financial aid for non-Islamic houses of worship.

The cheques were presented by Uggah to 42 representatives, who would later distribute them to religious institutions in their respective constituencies.

He said that Phase 1 earlier had involved 109 projects and a total value of RM19.1mil.

In total for last year’s allocation, he said RM30mil had been allocated by the state government to finance 212 projects.

Uggah (third left) presents a Unifor cheque to Mambong assemblyman Datuk Dr Jerip Susil. Also seen are (from left) Talib, Rundi, Sim, and Lon.

On top of this, he said that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had even approved additional funds for Unifor.

“This is a reflection of the commitment of Abang Johari and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) on our efforts to ensure that the requirements of the various religious groups in Sarawak are addressed,” he said.

He emphasised that racial and religious harmony had to be nurtured and strengthened in Sarawak.

According to Uggah, RM15mil had been approved for Unifor in 2017, RM20mil in 2018, RM30mil last year, and RM50mil this year.

He said he did not want Unifor funds to be a divisive factor in any area as it was meant to help.

“Here in Sarawak we are unique and we are the only state in Malaysia which has Unifor,” he said.

He urged the representatives to play their role and ensure the funds were utilised accordingly and to also monitor the progress of projects in their area to ensure they fulfilled the needs of the people of various religious groups.

Meanwhile, Uggah pointed out that the state government had approved a charitable trust under Unifor to find a mechanism to finance activities of non-Islamic religions.

In addition, a three-acre site in Ong Tiang Swee Road had been allocated for Unifor’s headquarters.

Also present were Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, assistant ministers and newly elected Unifor director Richard Lon.

(Seated, from left to right) Talib, Rundi, Uggah, Sim, and Lon along with Unifor cheque recipients.