Unit now, full-fledged dept later

Unifor a dynamic entity with much room for growth: Uggah

ROYAL RIDE… It had to be a special day for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mohamad yesterday. First, he was granted an audience with the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, his first since becoming Prime Minister after the 14th General Election. Then Sultan Ibrahim drove him in a blue Proton Saga in a 22-km trip. That car is special because it was a gift Dr Mahathir gave in 1985 to Sultan Ibrahim’s late father, Sultan Iskandar, when he was Agong and Dr Mahathir was prime minister. • Full story on Page 3

KUCHING: The Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) has every chance to be a full-fledged government department.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said when all its plans are in place and its scope widened accordingly, Unifor could emulate Majlis Islam (Islamic Council) and Baitulmal (Islamic Trust).

“For now the government will take it a step at a time and build an organisation that can translate its policy of inclusivity for the approximately 75% of the population (in Sarawak) who are non-Muslims,” he said in response to a question from the New Sarawak Tribune at a press conference in his office yesterday.

Earlier, he handed over a state allocation of RM2.3 million for the construction of a multipurpose hall at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Batu Lintang, here.

Uggah, who is the minister in charge of Unifor, saw the unit as a dynamic entity with much room for growth because it was set up by the state government as a charitable trust to raise funds.

“The funds will be used not only for non-Islamic religious bodies but also to finance socio-economic activities aimed at addressing social problems particularly in the urban growth areas.

“With the rapid growth of population in cities and towns like Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu social problems also increase, he said.

Uggah said these urban centres attracted many foreigners, be they students or workers both professional and menial, thus inflating the actual population.

“These outside influences inevitably affect the social values which in turn create social issues. Unifor will have to address this,” he added.

He went on to explain that most departments, even ministries in the government, usually started as a unit in the Chief Minister’s Office.

He saw Unifor’s future to be along this line of development.

Unifor was created on May 26 2017. It was the brainchild of the state’s revered former chief minister, the Late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, and was placed under the auspices of the Chief Minister’s Department. – S SIVANESAN

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