Datuk Richard Wee

KUCHING: As long as the government is able to focus on balanced rural-urban development, one should appreciate the investment put into the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) Complex, said Datuk Richard Wee.

The Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Associations president said that there may be many different viewpoints with regard to the cost of the building.

However, he reminded that in Malaysia’s short history, many iconic buildings had also been built and had received different criticisms.

“If one wishes to consider the total cost of investment on all those projects, one could easily equate them with providing electricity and water supply and all other infrastructural amenities to villages and longhouses throughout the country.

“It would be difficult to have a fair and proper comparison,” he explained when contacted yesterday.

He was commenting on Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) Youth’s statement questioning the state government’s rationale for allocating RM70 million for the construction of the Unifor Complex.

He said that the building is an important statement of the Sarawak government to reflect the state’s religious harmony, unique culture, and distinctive values of Sarawakians.

“If we are serious in placing the importance of what we wish to showcase to not just Malaysia but the world of our special unique heritage, it would seem inappropriate for such an important government agency to be housed in any insignificant corner of any ministry,” said Wee.

He noted that the vision and mission of Unifor is to bring together all non-Islamic religions in Sarawak to be able to interact.

“Thus, having a significant and respectable premises for all other religions to be a part of will certainly further enhance and promote the religious freedom and harmony which we are so proud of in Sarawak,” he said.

He noted that the establishment of Unifor as a government agency was initiated by the state government to showcase Sarawak’s unique cultures, religions, and traditional heritage — pointing out that it was the only one of its kind in Malaysia.

“As Sarawakians, we should be proud of such a set-up so that we can continue to propagate and preserve our Sarawakian traditional culture and our way of life. I believe all Sarawakians would agree wholeheartedly and welcome the move of setting up Unifor,” he said.