Thursday, January 20

Dr Sim: Covid-19 will be around for a while,  make new norm part of life

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Dr Sim (front, centre), flanked by Sagah (third left) and Richard, in a photo call with the heads of religious bodies who attended the interfaith fellowship dinner.

KUCHING: The people must learn to coexist with the Covid-19 virus for the foreseeable future until a vaccine becomes available, said Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He said with full cooperation from all sectors of society and the authorities, Sarawak will be able to flatten the latest wave of Covid-19 cases again, just as it did when the first outbreak struck in March this year.

“I think the Covid-19 coronavirus will continue to exist among us for a while. I don’t think there will be a quick fix to cure the virus and I think we just have to prepare to live with the new norm,” he said.

He said this when officiating at an interfaith fellowship dinner held in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 84th birthday here on Saturday.

Separately, Dr Sim said the state government, having already set up the first-of-its-kind Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) in the country, had also decided to establish the Unifor Trust and build the Unifor Complex worth RM70 million.

He said the soon-to-be-built complex will be placed under Unifor Trust and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will be invited to perform the earth-breaking.

“Unifor Trust will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, someone who is very passionate to make sure the trust fund will be a symbol of unity for all the different religions in the state,” he said.

He pointed out that the trust fund is a separate body that is not owned by the state government.

“Also with Unifor Trust, the fund is ongoing to generate income for it to carry out welfare activities and we hope when the RM70 million building is completed, Unifor will have to make rental payment to the trust fund in order to occupy the building,” he added.

Dr Sim also reiterated that controversial views of extremist groups from Peninsular Malaysia were not welcomed in the state, as they risk destroying the harmonious social fabric that exists in the state.

Looking forward, he said Sarawak is set to welcome a prosperous era starting in the year 2023, when the state is expected to generate revenue of about RM12 billion to RM15 billion a year.

“In Sarawak, we are going to have our own telecommunications company, petrol stations, international schools and trade offices,” he said without elaborating further.

Before leaving for a state banquet at the State Legislative Assembly Complex to mark the Head of State’s birthday, Dr Sim expressed his gratitude to all heads of religious bodies for attending the dinner and for supporting Unifor in realising its missions.

Among those in attendance were Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Unifor director Richard Lon, Sarawak Sikh Temple Association president Dr Kalwinder Singh Khaira, Malaysia Buddhist Association Sarawak branch Dato Sri Dr Tay Chin Kin, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei the Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute, and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Archdiocese the Most Reverend Simon Poh.