Johor Sultan: Why does JAKIM need RM1b budget?

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar of Johor questioned why JAKIM need a RM1 billion budget. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Sultan Ibrahim

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar of Johor questioned why JAKIM need a RM1 billion budget. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Sultan Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) must explain its expenditure and justify its demand for RM1 billion in annual allocations, said Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar.

The Johor ruler said he will have JAKIM provide details of its spending when the Conference of Malay Rulers meets next, noting that the federal Islamic agency has an obligation to report to the conference.

“I am curious to know — if it is true — why do they need a RM1 billion budget? Does it include allocations to all the states? “During the next Conference of Rulers (meeting), I want them to show me their breakdown for expenses. I want to know if they are financing our religious schools here,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Star.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki previously said JAKIM needed more than RM1 billion for 2016 if it is to better combat “extremist” ideologies like the Islamic State (IS), liberalism, pluralism, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs claimed the RM724.6 million set aside for the JAKIM next year was not sufficient.

The scrutiny over its accounts followed claims by critics that the agency was promoting hardline Islamism through its programmes, which in turn was slowly steering Malaysia towards Islamic conservatism.

Critics have also questioned the constitutionality of JAKIM given that Islamic affairs come under the purview of the individual states and not the federal agency.

The department responded by saying it was the only entity able to safeguard Islam’s position as the religion of the federation.

In the interview published today, the Johor ruler reminded JAKIM that the Conference of Malay Rulers was the highest authority on Islamic matters and that the agency’s function was only advisory.

“We are the heads of religion in our own states. JAKIM can give advice or propose guidelines but it is up to us whether we want to accept it or not,” he said.

The Johor Sultan also pointed out in Johor, fatwas or religious edicts issued by the Johor Islamic Council cannot be effective without his approval, and that he had questioned some of the fatwa issued by them before.

“I have appointed a panel in the Johor Islamic Council. They come up with fatwas for me to approve it. The fatwa cannot be effective without my approval. Sometimes I do question a fatwa and I want them to explain it, but JAKIM has no right to interfere in the state,” he said. – Malay Mail Online

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