Malaysia

Sibu churches given federal cash ahead of vote

By Adib Zalkapli
May 16, 2010

SIBU, May 16 — Four Sibu Methodist churches were given special grants totalling RM1.75 million from the federal government yesterday in the final hours of the by-election campaign.

The award was presented by a representative from the deputy prime minister’s office, according to a report in today’s The Sunday Post.

The money for the church was on top of the RM15 million promised to local schools and a RM5 million pledge by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to alleviate flooding in Rajang Park if his candidate were to win in today’s election.

The Sunday Post report added that the money would be used for upgrading and extension works of church buildings in the city with a pre-dominantly Methodist population.

The four churches are the En Tao Methodist Church, Tien Tao Methodist Church, which received RM500,000, Sing Ang Tong Methodist Church (RM400,000) and Hwai Ang Tong Methodist Church (RM350,000).

Sibu SUPP publicity chief Daniel Ngieng told The Malaysian Insider the churches have applied for the special grants for quite some time.

“They applied from the government and the DPM agreed to it,” said Ngieng.

Ngieng said the four churches have about 5,000 active members.

SUPP which is Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s (BN) second largest party is fielding Robert Lau Hui Yew who is contesting against the state DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng and independent Narawi Haron.

Campaigning for the Sibu by-election ended last night and polling began this morning.

From the start of the campaign period last week, DAP has been actively engaging the Christians here who form about 53 per cent of the 54,695 voters.

The party had organised several meetings with the local Christians where the urged the community to register their protest against the government in today’s by-election.

DAP had made the government’s ruling to ban the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God in the national language as one of its major campaign issues.

Wong had also declared that he would find a solution to the ‘Allah’ row if he wins the election.

SUPP however said that the issue is not relevant to the by-election as the banning has not been enforced in the East Malaysian state.

The government had given an assurance to the Malay-speaking Christians in Sabah and Sarawak that the word ‘Allah’ can still be used in the two states.