KOTA KINABALU: There is no necessity for a Non-Muslim Religious Affairs Unit to be set up as all affairs related to non-Muslim religious bodies are already being taken care of by the Ministry of Law and Native Affairs, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Replying to a supplementary question posed by Kiulu Assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai (PBS) during the question and answer session in today’s assembly sitting Shafie said assistant law and native affairs minister Jannie Lasimbang has been given the task to deal with issues related to non-Muslim religious bodies.
Joniston had suggested the setting up of the unit on grounds that Sabah has a substanial number of non-Muslim religious denominations and their needs should also be looked into.
The Kiulu representative told the House that he was made to understand the Sarawak State government had put in place such a unit.
“I think such a Unit was crucial to, among others, ensure that government financial assistance to non-Muslim religious bodies reached the targetted group,” he said.
Joniston earlier asked Shafie whether the new State Government would provide as well as increase grants to non-Muslim bodies and Mission and Chinese Independent Schools.
In his reply, Shafie, who is also State Finance Minister said his government will continue provision of such grants but any decision for an increase would depend on the State’s financial capability.
He also said that the total annual allocation disbursed for non-Muslim religious bodies and Mission and Chinese Independent Schools was only RM17 million and not RM30 million as announced by the previous State govenment.
To another supplementary question by Joniston, Shafie said the proposal for the government to pay the allowances of Christian Pastors could not be implemented as yet due to financial constraint.
He said he had wanted to implement the proposal as he had thought the State government had RM4 billion in reserves.
“However, I found out that our State reserves is less than RM2 billion,” Shafie said. -SabahNewsToday