As I said, it’s all about perception

“DAP has no representative in MAIPP. Any decisions made by MAIPP regarding internal affairs of the mosque are solely decided by MAIPP. DAP has never been asked for an approval and were only informed by the press,” said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. But then read what the State EXCO member (equivalent of a State Minister) said. The perception created was that the State is behind this move.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

DAP-Led Penang Govt Introduces Mosque Election

(Bernama) – The DAP-led Penang state government has decided to adopt the election system using ballot papers in the election of mosque committee members throughout the state.

Chairman of the State Committee on Religion, Domestic Trade and Consumerism Abdul Malik Kassim said the method that was introduced had been agreed upon by the various parties including the Islamic Religious Department, Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Through discussions with the various groups, it was agreed that a more transparent method of electing mosque committee members should be introduced instead of the existing system,” he told reporters here today.

He said the selection through election aimed to give back the right to nominate and elect congregation leaders to members of the respective mosque congregation.

He said a guideline on methods of electing the mosque committee members for the 2012-2013 term had been distributed to all the mosques in the state.


Penang to go ahead with planned mosque polls

(The Star) – The state government will proceed with the mosque committee election as the new system is more transparent and will benefit the Muslim community.

State Domestic Trade, Consumer Affairs and Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said changes to the mosque election were still within the constitution.

“Some people claimed that the changes made regarding the election must have the green light from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. However, the right to select the method of choosing the candidates still remains with the state government,” he said.

“Yang di-Pertuan Agong still has the final say once the nominations are sent to him for approval.”

Abdul Malik stressed that DAP had nothing to do with the decision which was made after discussions between the state government and the State Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP).

After the nomination closed on June 7, 193 mosques out of the total 200 in the state have sent in their nominations for the election starting June 18.

Abdul Malik said the numbers showed that the mosque qariah committees had no qualms about supporting the new and more transparent system.

Meanwhile, Penang Umno has submitted an appeal to Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the state mosque election to be postponed and reviewed for it to be in line with the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Penang) Enactment.

Its chief Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said: “The Muslims are feeling uncomfortable as they have to go to the mosque to vote in their lea-ders. The appointment has always been carried out through meetings and consensus.”

President of Penang Mosque Qariah Association Datuk Seri Mohd Yussof Latiff shares the opinion, saying he believes that the system needs improvement as “it is too liberal.”


Penang prepared to go to court over mosque elections

(Bernama) – The Penang government is prepared to face court challenges over its decision to have election of mosque committee members in the state on June 18, said State Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Kassim.

He said the election of mosque committee members was provided for in Section 22 (4) of the Pulau Pinang Islamic Religious Council Enactment.

“A total of 4,485 people have offered themselves to fill the 4,530 vacancies in 151 of 200 mosques in six districts in the state, to enhance the preservation of the mosque institution,” he said in a statement issued Friday.

He said 151 mosques will be holding the polls while the rest would be using alternative methods of selecting the committee members.


Umno ‘welcomed’ to sue Penang on mosque polls

(Malaysiakini) – Penang state executive councillor for religious affairs Abdul Malik Abul Kassim has challenged groups protesting the elections to mosque committees in the state to sue the government.

Abdul Malik said the election would go on despite the fierce protests from Umno as the procedure was in compliance with Section 22(4) of the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP) enactment.

“So if anybody wants to challenge this, you are welcome,” said Abdul Malik, the assemblyperson for Batu Maung.

“Those who cannot accept improvements that benefit the people and the Muslim community surely cannot accept this change,” he added.

Several groups have shot down the new procedure under which mosque committee members would no longer be selected by the Penang Islamic Affairs Council (MAIPP) but elected directly by their congregations.

In the frontline of the protest is Umno, which has accused the DAP of interfering in the Islamic affairs of the state.

Umno also hit out at the state government for intending to split the Muslim community and allow politics to seep into the congregations.

MAIPP has also been strongly criticised for insulting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, with Umno and Muslim NGOs insisting that His Majesty’s approval of the new election system was necessary before implementation in the state.

However, Abdul Malik said NGOs aligned to Umno were trying to “exploit” the issue and by trying to drag the Agong into the matter, they hoped to make the Malays increasingly angry with the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

“Actually, only the selection format has changed,” he said adding that previously, mosque committees were selected just by the raising of hands, but now it would be done through voting of candidates offering themselves to serve.

Mosque committee members were all along picked without the views of the mosque congregations considered, said Abdul Malik, “but this time we ask them to suggest names for their own committees to MAIPP, which will then be endorsed by the king”.

No meddling from DAP

Abdul Malik said Umno had politicised the issue by slandering DAP, accusing the party of “interfering” in the administration of Muslim affairs.

He reiterated that the new procedure was solely the decision of MAIPP, without even an iota of meddling from any DAP leader.

“I am confident that the 4,485 people who offered themselves to fill 4,530 posts in 151 of the 200 mosques in the six districts of Penang intend to work together with the state government to uphold Islam,” he said.

The 151 mosque congregations that agreed to hold the elections will vote in their committees at their annual general meetings, while the remaining 34 will not hold elections at their AGMs.

A total of 59 main posts were unchallenged while eight mosque congregations did not submit their nomination forms.

Abdul Malik said it was clear that Muslims in Penang were ready for a change that would benefit their community.

“The ones not ready for change are Umno and Malay rights pressure group Perkasa, which are anti-change, because they have always been very rigid in their thinking,” he said.

“That is why they blindly protest against any change by anyone other than Umno… although at the end of the day, they will be copying the same thing,” he added.

He gave the example of Umno protesting against the PAS-led Kelantan government for introducing the five-day work week.

Umno had then accused the state government of being lazy and for reducing work productivity, he said.

“But not long after that, the federal government too implemented the five-day work week,” Abdul Malik added.