Mystery surrounds the RM1.75 million in grants to four churches in Sibu – which could change the whole face of the controversy.
What prompted the federal government to award the grants to these churches during the campaign? (The churches had reportedly applied for the grants quite some time ago.) Did government officials actually meet the leaders of these churches during the campaign before deciding to award the grants? If there was such a meeting, was there an unsolicited government offer to award these grants during the campaign? Or more seriously, did the churches press for the funds to be granted?
This is what the churches in Sibu have to clarify. If they have already received the money, they need to inform the public whether they are now going to return this tainted money. If they have not yet received the money, they should let us know whether they are now going to reject it.
The same goes for the mission schools.
Can we now also get a commitment from all churches, mission schools and religious institutions that they will not accept funds once elections are imminent?
This is an excerpt from the report in the Malaysian Insider:
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.