The lawyer and human rights activist says the money could be better utilised for more important institutions like hospitals, schools and universities.
Lawyer and human rights activist Siti Kasim has hit out at newly-appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa for saying that the RM810.89 million operating budget for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) is not bloated.
In a Facebook post, Siti questioned why Jakim’s budget was not slashed when other institutions like hospitals, schools and universities were forced to do with much less due to the country’s financial situation.
She mocked Mujahid for saying that Jakim was vital to the smooth running of the current administration.
“Really? Will anyone die if we slash their budget by half? Will anyone become stupid or will the Malays become smarter?” she asked.
Siti also took Mujahid to task for saying the budget was justified after less than two weeks in office.
“That must be one hell of a record in the review of a major agency. Why do, again and again, Islamists have to prove to us sane Malaysians that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing for the citizens of this nation when it comes to anything labelled Islam?”
Siti also questioned why Mujahid would need to consult the Council of Rulers over the fate of the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim).
“Why do you need to consult the Rulers? It has nothing to do with the Rulers. Iksim is a Sdn Bhd, a think tank propaganda tool of the previous government. Using religion to promote their racist and supremacist agenda and you are keeping it for what? To now do your bidding as well?” she asked, adding that Mujahid should not be a hypocrite.
In an interview with the Malay Mail, Mujahid denied rumours that Jakim would be disbanded under the Pakatan Harapan government, and stressed that the agency was vital to the smooth running of the current administration.
He said a “huge amount” of the budget allocation goes into the pockets of imam, or mosque leader, of each state, as well to help finance the running of registered Islamic schools.
“Although the state governments are supposed to do this, they do not have the capacity to bear the costs, so we have to top up,” he told the Malay Mail.
Formally established as part of the Prime Minister’s Department in 1997, Jakim’s budget has been increasing from RM582 million in 2011 to between RM700 million and RM800 million annually.
In the same interview, Mujahid said in the past Iksim had been used as a political tool to attack political dissenters.
Mujahid other then opposition politicians had been targeted by Iksim in the past, with them being labelled as supporters of liberalism, pluralism, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) agenda.
The think tank was established on December 9, 2014, by Jakim, National Islamic Affairs Council and state religious authorities with the consent of the Conference of Rulers, and part of its agenda was to oppose secularism, liberalism, and pluralism. – FMT