Khalid under fire over Islamic affairs portfolio

(NST) – Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim announced yesterday that he would take over the Islamic affairs portfolio from Datuk Dr Hasan Ali, who was sacked by Pas on Jan 8, raising questions on whether he was fit to hold the post.

Critics questioned whether Khalid, a former corporate figure, was fit to hold the portfolio as he had no religious background.

“Khalid may make the wrong decision when it comes to religious issues,” said the Selangor Anti-Irregularities Coalition chairman Hamidzun Khairuddin.

He said this move was an attempt by Parti Keadilan Rakyat to centralise certain powers under them.

“As someone who is not from a religious background, Khalid will make religious decisions based on his own opinions and not based on the opinion of someone well-versed in religious affairs.”

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s social sciences senior lecturer Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said that it was a politically-influenced decision.

“Khalid’s decision to take over the Islamic Affairs portfolio might have stemmed from problems which he had dealing with Hasan.

“It seems  this decision was taken for political mileage and to safeguard Khalid’s own interests.”

Azeem Fazwan said the prime concern now was how the decision would affect the relationship between PKR, Pas and DAP in Selangor.

“It seems Khalid has put his political interests first in selecting a suitable candidate with merit and experience to be in charge of such a delicate portfolio such as Islamic Affairs.”

Khalid said yesterday that he had decided to separate the Islamic Affairs and Malay Customs portfolio, which would now be held by the newly-appointed executive councillor Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi, who is Pas assemblyman for Sijangkang.

Commenting on this, Pas Dewan Ulama vice-head Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamed said the two portfolios should not be separated as it was common sense that the Malays in this country were synonymous with Islam.

“It is only suitable that the Islamic Affairs portfolio be given to a Pas representative. I hope Khalid will only hold on to the post for  two or three months before turning it over to Pas.”

Pas central working committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said it was not a big deal whether the portfolio was given to a Pas leader or otherwise.

“It does not matter to us at all and we are not overly concerned about it,” said the Kuala Selangor member of parliament.

In Kota Baru, Pas spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said that Dr Ahmad Yunus’  appointment would end the controversy over Hasan’s expulsion.

“I hope for the best,” he said after receiving a delegation led by China’s deputy finance minister Zhao Guang Qing at his office.