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Jakim Should Focus On Urban Poverty, Says Tawfik Ismail

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PETALING JAYA: G25 member and former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail (pic) has called for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to be redeployed to handle urban poverty for Muslims.

Tawfik, whose father was Malaysia’s second deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, has maintained his strong stance against the religious body despite reports of a sedition probe against him.

“Isn’t urban poverty and increasing spread of high rise ghetto a problem for the religious authorities to tackle as it involves mainly urban Muslims?

“A billion ringgit a year can go very far in arresting all the urban problems faced by Muslim youths and prevent them from being Mat Rempits and potential recruits for mischief at home and abroad, and give dignity to their lives,” he said on Tuesday.

“Let the Malay Rulers and their religious councils and advisers handle the religious issues in their respective states, as they were constitutionally entitled to do as Heads of Religion,” he added.

Maintaining that his views were personal and not shared by G25, Tawfik also suggested changing the focus of the existing minister, deputy minister in charge of religious affairs and the director-general of Jakim to focus on matters of urban redevelopment among Muslims.

He further reiterated his stand against Jakim, criticising its relevance and the reach it has in the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims in the country, adding that Islam is already enshrined in the Constitution as the official religion of the country, and it can only be undermined when the rights of the Malay Rulers are trampled upon.

“What law, divine or secular, empowers Jakim to proclaim its version of Islam is the only path Muslims can take, when Malaysia endorsed the Amman Message to accept all eight schools of Islam as legitimate?” said Tawfik, referring to 2004 global statement that declared what Islam is and is not and what strains of the religion should be recognised.

“Jakim and its supporters need to answer to the public, especially Muslims, why it is usurping the powers of the Sultans in the matter of religion.

“We are aware that attempts to erode the powers of the Malay Rulers have been ongoing since 1993 and the existence of Jakim is a reminder that the struggle continues till today,” he said.

He added that recent statements by the religious body pointed to a “government within the government” as Jakim has a say in almost every service ministry that affects the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

“There is every opportunity for abuse if Jakim is given wide powers to determine what is acceptable or non-acceptable for Muslims and this does nothing at all to strengthen national integration”, said Tawfik.

He called on Malaysians, especially Malays, to make a stand and fight for the preservation of their history, culture and language, which make up “the glue that binds us all”.

Tawfik said that the real culprits are the opponents of national integration and rational discourse who ignore the Federal Constitution as the true Social Contract.

“We as a nation have to look long and hard if we too are unwittingly surrendering our Malaysianness and our Malayness to an ideology alien to our way of life.

“Are we substituting colonialism and communism for another type of domination?

“We will be in danger of losing our identity as a nation if we allow these transgressors their way,” he said.

With regard to reports of a sedition probe into his previous remarks on Jakim, Tawfik said he had not yet been contacted by the police and did not know what exactly the charges were.

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