This year, taxpayers will contribute RM810.89 million to the Malaysian Islamic Department’s (Jakim) operating budget and the newly appointed religious minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa believes that this budget is justified.
He further clarified in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail that the large sum of the budget will go into paying the imams or mosque leaders of each state, on top of financing registered Islamic schools.
Then he added,
“Although the state government are supposed to do this, they do not have the capacity to bear the costs, so we have to top up.”
In regards of the rumours that the Pakatan Harapan government would disband Jakim, he stressed that the presence of the agency is vital to ensure the current administration runs smoothly.
“Jakim, and its staff members are one of our concerns, and it is one of the most important agencies that needs to be reformed. It needs a new face with new ideas but everything stays in order to improve.”
“So the question of doing away with Jakim has not arisen at all,” Mujahid explained.
Prime Minister Dr M had earlier released a statement saying that a new committee is going to be set up to evaluate Jakim, to see whether the agency should remain in its current form or revert to its original purpose.
Jakim was established in 1997, and the allocation of the agency has steadily increased from RM582 million in 2011 to between RM700 and RM800 million annually.
However, Mujahid was uncertain of the future of the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim), because of the face that the institute has been used as a political tool in the past.
Mujahid was targeted by the Iksim’s CEO, Datuk Mahamad Naser Disa, who labelled him as a supporter of liberalism, pluralism and the LGBT.
“I am not comfortable when Iksim is used for political attacks. It can stay, or it can even go. If it wants to stay, it has to come to our terms of understanding.”
He added that he will have to consult the Council of Rulers some time the future to decide the gate of Iksim.