Non-Muslim houses of worship can apply for funds to carry out repairs and upgrades

An aerial view of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling or "Harmony Street" in Penang, where places of worship of various religions have been built within a radius of a few hundred meters. - ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star In view is Kapitan Keling Mosque (foreground) and Sri Mahamariamman Temple (diagonaly across the street in background) Starpic By: ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star / 20 Aug 2019

PETALING JAYA: Non-Muslim houses of worship can now apply for government funding to carry out repairs and upgrades, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The MCA president said any non-Muslim houses of worship that have registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and National Unity Ministry, and its management body has a bank account, would be eligible to apply.

"I call on all non-Muslim religious groups to apply for this allocation. I have instructed the MCA Ethnic Relations and Religious Affairs bureau and all state liaison committees to coordinate and provide the necessary assistance to those interested in applying," he said in a statement on Wednesday (May 12).

Dr Wee, who is also Transport Minister, said applicants could seek an amount ranging from RM50,000 to RM100,000 to carry out repairs, upgrades, maintenance or emergency works for the house of worship.

He said National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique had personally relayed the good news to him.

"We would like to thank her for accepting MCA's proposal and established this fund to assist non-Muslim religious groups nationwide," he said.

The application form is available on the ministry's website.

Separately, the MCA bureau's chairman Cally Ting said they would cooperate with the ministry to inform the public on the latest standard operating procedure (SOP) for non-Muslim houses of worship following the enforcement of the latest movement control order.

"The bureau will assist to convey and promote the relevant SOP to non-Muslim bodies and their respective adherents across the country via various channels to reduce the spread of Covid-19," she said.

Based on past experiences, Ting said Covid-19 cases and clusters have stemmed from places of worship and religious ceremonies and it must not be taken lightly.

"The main goal of the authorities in formulating a stringent SOP is not to issue compounds or deliberately create difficulties for the people.

"The main aim for the SOP is to prevent the spread of Covid-19, so that our nation may overcome the pandemic as early as possible, and that the people's daily lives and the economy can return to normal," she added.

On Tuesday (May 11), the ministry said the number of worshippers must not exceed 50 people for houses of worship that can accommodate more than 1,000 worshippers, and 20 people for premises with a capacity of fewer than 1,000 worshippers.

The praying time for non-Muslim houses of worship is from 6am to 2pm and 4pm to 10pm, while the management bodies are also required to carry out sanitisation for 30 minutes before and after each praying activity.

Senior citizens and children are not encouraged to attend any prayer activities while physical contact, religious processions and gatherings after the worshipping sessions are strictly prohibited.

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