Zahid said it was due to protests from travel agents, NGOs and religious leaders, while Nazri said it was because the implementation was “different” from what he was told and what he reported to the Cabinet.
The now-cancelled Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (Imams) was brought up during Cabinet meetings but there was no detailed briefing, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said the Cabinet was not told that Imams would be outsourced.
“The Cabinet was informed about a system to register umrah pilgrims, which would also set certain guidelines and methods to protect them. It did not involve the appointment of any company to manage the system, or that it would be outsourced,” he said after officiating the 42nd Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) general assembly.
Imams was meant to be the only avenue for umrah visa applications to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Malaysia.
The system, which aimed to address instances of umrah package frauds in the country, was cancelled on Saturday within 24 hours of its launch.
Concerns had been raised over the system previously, including the imposition of certain charges perceived to be additional costs for performing the umrah.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said he welcomed the decision to cancel Imams as the Government did not want private companies using the system to impose any charges.
Asked if there was any political motive behind the cancellation, Dr Ahmad Zahid said it was due to protests – not just from travel agents offering umrah packages – but also from several NGOs and religious leaders in Malaysia.
“I do not think there are political elements in this matter, but I do smell something fishy.
“It seems like some parties are trying to take advantage of the system, as someone who has never gone for the umrah was appointed the chief executive officer of the company,” he said.
However, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the abrupt cancellation of Imams for umrah visa applications had nothing to do with some of the top executives being non-Muslims.
The Tourism and Culture Minister said the actual reason behind the cancellation was because the implementation of Imams was “different” from what he was told and what he reported to the Cabinet.
“No, nothing to do with that,” said Nazri in a text message to The Star to a question on whether the system was axed due to the involvement of non-Muslims.
“It is because it is different from what I briefed the Cabinet,” he said.
Nazri, who is currently in Germany for a working visit, said he also did not agree with the fee imposed for the system, which was RM90 instead of RM40 as he had told Parliament during the winding-up of the budget.
“The fee should be RM40, inclusive of insurance and processing. So, I cancelled it,” he said.
“I think Nazri could not agree with the charge and also the fact that they made it compulsory for people to go through the (outsourced) company,” he said, when met at the Jom Teguh Bersama Carnival at SJK(C) Yong Peng 1.
Malaysian Muslim Consumers’ Association (PPIM) lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan had said a thorough study should have been carried out before the system was implemented.
He said consumers were taken aback when the Imams was announced and cancelling it was the right move.
Travel agencies and Umno leaders have also expressed relief over the cancellation following the public outcry.
Nazri said even if the system was managed by the non-Muslims, the umrah process would not be jeopardised.
“There is no policy against non-Muslims (being in charge),” he said.
In Yong Peng, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cancellation of Imams should not be turned into a racial issue.
Liow said he believed Nazri made the decision based on facts from his ministry. – The Star