Thursday, May 11, 2017

3701) TAKE ACTION TO RESTORE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE, SAY NGOs - NEW STRAITS TIMES - 11/5/2017

                 
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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