SIBU, Nov 14 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg today said he will allocate RM200 million for the Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) to be channelled to non-Islamic religious bodies in the state, up from this year’s figure of RM50 million.
He said the increase will be part of the state’s Budget 2023 that will be presented at the Sarawak state assembly later this month.
“You want to request for an increase in the allocation for next year, then we will increase,” he said at the Unifor’s Appreciation gathering here.
He said the state government could afford the increase due to higher state revenue of over RM10 billion, the highest in the state’s history.
He said apart from the allocation from the state government, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) assemblymen have been provided with a special allocation under the Rural Minor Project and Rural Transformation Project programmes to assist non-Islamic religious bodies to carry out their activities and build new houses of worship.
“This means when you do good things, God will reward us,” he said.
“When you pray in a very comfortable house of worship, you can concentrate because prayer normally is a connection with you and your God,” he said.
He said this is for this reason that the state government is helping other religions to build houses of worship “so you can request whatever you want to request from your God.”
He said as the premier he must be fair to all the people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also the minister in charge of Unifor, thanked Abang Johari for providing the grants under the special development assistance fund (SDAF).
He said in the first year of the unit establishment in 2017, the allocation was RM15 million and it gradually increased to RM50 million this year.
He added between 2017 and this year, the total allocations were RM215 million.
He added another RM10 million was given out as operational assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic to houses of worship.
Apart from providing funds to Unifor, he said the state government has also given an allocation of RM30 million to mission schools.