Under fire for questioning RM70mln Unifor complex, Baru says PSB youth wing intention misunderstood

KUCHING (Aug 13): Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian today said Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) youth wing’s intention when questioning the construction of the RM70 million complex for the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) was misunderstood after it drew flak from various quarters.

Pointing out that PSB was a party represented by Sarawakians from all race and religions, Baru, who recently joined the party, said the youth wing was never against the state government’s rationale for allocating the funds for the complex.

“On the contrary and in their youthful enthusiasm they were excited about the funds that was being extended to Unifor, and were merely full of ideas on how it should be distributed,” he said in a statement today.

“From their view the proposed usage of the funds for a ten-storey building when there is oversupply of empty buildings in Kuching maybe needs rethinking. Make no mistake about it, we are equally as excited as the next man for this much overdue funding from the government for ‘other religions’.

“However, due to the lack of finesse in delivery, this enthusiasm has been misconstrued as an objection against the funding of Unifor.”

In a statement last Friday, the PSB youth wing had asked the state government to give details of the complex’s actual purpose. It said unless the complex serves other purposes than solely dealing with non-Islamic affairs and charitable trust, it was a waste of money.

It also said the government should instead turn an existing vacant government building into the complex, adding that the money could be better spent by channeling it directly to the various religious bodies for their upgrading works.

The statement had caused much angst and discomfort amongst members of the public including Sarawak Anglican Bishop, Datuk Danald Jute.

Baru said it was regrettable that Danald had issued a statement to question the youth wing’s intention.

“I would like to assure his grace that there is no ill intent on the part of PSB Youth, only, as earlier stated, a zealousness to ensure that funding is to be utilised effectively,”

He said they agreed with Danald’s comment that “the federal government should also do the same to support all religious groups, and not discriminate against any”.

“His Grace was also correct to mention that Malaysia would become a far better nation when all are treated equally,” said Baru.

He said it was along similar lines that PSB believed that Sarawak could be a model state if Sarawakians consistently practise unadulterated acceptance in their way of life.

“It is with this same spirit that our forefathers came together to join in the ‘formation of the Federation of Malaysia’, with the assurances and safeguards as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“Hence we must continue to zealously guard this special status of Sarawak which had drawn praises from all over for our harmonious coexistence among the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious communities,” he stressed.

Decades of social integration, inter-marriages and mutual and harmonious coexistence had made most, if not all Sarawakians oblivious to the race and religious narratives which often reared their ugly heads in Peninsular Malaysia, he said.

“Therefore I dream of recognition for a unified religious body where Sarawakians from all walks of life can converge to eat, drink, socialise and communicate under a common umbrella of friendship united in a camaraderie epitomised by our unadulterated acceptance way of life.

“We must not only say it, but must be seen to be consistently practising it. That’s the Sarawak spirit. May we Sarawakians be ‘all for one, and one for all’. May there be no ‘for others’ or ‘dan lain-lain’,” Baru said.

Source: Borneo Post

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