Mujahid: Person who distorted Ponggal circular must be punished, Jakim never said ‘haram’

Opalyn Mok
Minister for the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa delivers his speech during the launch of the E-RPH and Kafa for Special Education in Nibong Tebal January 17, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

SEBERANG PERAI, Jan 17 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa today called for stern action to be taken against the person who wrote the January 13 circular that said it was “haram” for Muslim students to take part in Ponggal festivities.

He said the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) never used the word “haram” when relaying its “expert opinion” on Muslims participating in the Tamil harvest festival.

“The circular was distorted, he used the word haram, whoever wrote that, strict action must be taken against him instead of throwing the blame back to Jakim,” he said during a press conference in Nibong Tebal after launching an online platform for kafa teachers.

He stressed that Jakim had clearly said it was permissible for Muslim students to take part in Ponggal festivities based on a list of Islamic ethics.

He said Jakim had never banned Muslim students from joining in Ponggal festivities nor used the word “haram” in regard to this.

He also said Jakim had merely given its “expert opinion” to the Education Ministry as the ministry had asked its opinion on Muslim students participating in Ponggal celebration.

“The ministry had asked for our opinion in June, it was to allay the concern of Muslim parents, so we gave our opinion and it was up to them on how they craft the circular,” he said.

Mujahid earlier took a swipe at pro-moderation group, G25, and challenged them to take over the duties of Jakim and National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA).

“We are managing so many things, the one million kafa students, 30,000 kafa teachers, the halal certification and halal industry so if they think we are unconstitutional, why don’t they come and manage all these, take all of these responsibilities and manage it and tell us how we use the RM1.3 billion allocation,” he said in his speech.

He said the country’s halal certification, which was established since the 1980s, is one of the best in the world.

“If they say we are unconstitutional, are they saying the halal certification is not valid?” he asked.

G25 had released a report titled, “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam”, which claimed there were no provisions in the constitution for Jakim and NCIA to be set up.

He said Malaysia has a large share in the global halal industry which comes up to US$2 trillion (RM8.1 trillion).

“By saying we are unconstitutional, it will affect our halal industry and everyone in the industry as we are in charge of the industry,” he said.

He reminded G25 that if they wanted a debate on such matters, they should have left it to the academics instead of opening it up on a public platform.

“They could make it a debate among scholars but if they put it outside like this, the public doesn’t know anything, it will affect the 30,000 kafa teachers, the one million kafa students, the halal industry,” he said.

He said it was wrong of G25 to release such a controversial report at a time when racial and religious tension is high.

“This is not helping the situation at all,” he said.

Mujahid launched an online platform for kafa teachers in Penang called the e-RPH (e-rancangan pengajaran harian) to allow kafa teachers to plan their daily programmes online.

The platform, which was set entirely in jawi, was to ease the workflow of kafa teachers.

“This is a pilot project and I hope other the kafa in other states will be able to follow suit if this proves successful,” he said.

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