Take ac­tion to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence, say NGOs

New Straits Times - - News / Story of the day -

GE­ORGE TOWN: The cred­i­bil­ity of Penang Zakat is at stake fol­low­ing the ar­rest of 12 peo­ple by the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion.

Malaysian Mus­lim Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tion chief ac­tivist Datuk Nadzim Jo­han said peo­ple con­trib­uted their salaries to tithe man­age­ment bod­ies so it could be distributed to those in need.

“When such scan­dal sur­faces, peo­ple will have a fear of con­tin­u­ing their con­tri­bu­tions. This is a black mark on Penang Zakat,” he said.

Nadzim said those work­ing in Penang Zakat should be more aware of Is­lamic rules on man­ag­ing funds and ensure that they were not mis­ap­pro­pri­ated.

Penang Pas com­mis­sioner Muham­mad Fauzi Yu­sof said that the state Is­lamic Af­fairs Depart­ment should step up and as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity in this mat­ter.

“They should take an ac­tive role in restor­ing the con­fi­dence of Penang Zakat’s con­trib­u­tors.

“Even if those ar­rested are proven in­no­cent, doubt has been sowed. It’s im­por­tant for the depart­ment to act in a man­ner that would prove to the peo­ple that they are not be­yond re­proach,” he said.

Jaringan Mus­limin Pu­lau Penang chair­man Hafiz Nordin urged the state re­li­gious au­thor­ity to be more vig­i­lant on es­tab­lish­ments un­der its purview.

“Zakat money is col­lected from the pub­lic and meant for the poor. Misusing money for the poor is un-Is­lamic,” he said.

He urged for stern ac­tion to be taken against those in­volved in the scan­dal.

An­other non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Per­sat­uan Anak Jati Me­layu Is­lam, also called for stern ac­tion to be taken as a de­ter­rent.

Its chair­man, Yu­sof Mo­hamad, said apart from the of­fi­cials, MACC should also fo­cus on the con­trac­tors in their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“We can­not tol­er­ate ir­re­spon­si­ble con­trac­tors who want to make their work easy and get projects by en­tic­ing of­fi­cials into tak­ing bribes.

“How­ever, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials should also be aware that they are pub­lic ser­vants.

“In this par­tic­u­lar case, they are of­fi­cials in charge of money for the poor,” he said, adding that the gov­ern­ment should step up its cam­paign in erad­i­cat­ing graft.

State Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Do­mes­tic Trade com­mit­tee chair­man Datuk Ab­dul Ma­lik Abul Kas­sim gave his as­sur­ance that no funds were mis­ap­pro­pri­ated from Penang Zakat.

Ma­lik said this was based on the an­nual ac­count­ing and an in­de­pen­dent au­dit­ing process done by the cen­tre.

“We will also bring in in­de­pen­dent au­di­tors and foren­sic au­di­tors to in­ves­ti­gate if there was any mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds,” he said at a press con­fer­ence at his of­fice in Kom­tar here yes­ter­day.

He said that an in­de­pen­dent au­dit­ing team was sum­moned fol­low­ing a re­port on graft cases back in 2015, but no such prob­lems were found.

On al­le­ga­tions that the Penang Zakat chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer had given ed­u­ca­tion aid and schol­ar­ships to his child with­out go­ing through the state Is­lamic Af­fairs Depart­ment, Ma­lik de­clined to com­ment.

Ma­lik said that the four Penang Zakat of­fi­cers would only be sus­pended if they were charged in court with graft and that no ac­tion could be taken on them un­til MACC con­cluded its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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