The Impact of Madani-zation on Malaysia’s Economic Planning

Lim Teck Ghee, Murray Hunter and Ramesh Chander

Though many print media are suffering from an extended bout of self-imposed censorship, the English language social media has been replete with feedback comments on the latest announcement by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to expand the role of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) in his effort to enhance the country’s dignity and status.

“Previously, Jakim’s work was to preach, provide training and organise Quran recitation and memorisation competitions with state governments, but Jakim played less of a role in drafting the 12th Malaysia Plan and Madani budget.

“I have instructed that the role of the muftis, scholars or figures in Jakim should be in line with this development so that their input can be beneficial and can raise the dignity and status of the country,” he said in a speech at a national recitation and Quran memorisation competition in Butterworth. (Bernama)

Seen by critics as opportunistic and born out of the desperation of the Pakatan government ahead of the looming state elections, the move raises questions and issues largely ignored by politicians, think tanks, the media and other key stakeholders.

JAKIM’s current responsibilities include looking after the welfare of the Ummah, regulating the interpretation of Islam that strays away from Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah, issuing fatwas relevant to the federal territories, and regulating and overseeing halal issues.

There has also been a change in JAKIM’s organizational reporting. Previously JAKIM reported to the minister for Islamic affairs within the prime minister’s office. Now JAKIM reports to the Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah,who chairs the Majlis Agama Nasional, under the conference of rulers. This is a very significant change, as responsibility for JAKIM is no longer under the purview of the executive government, but the nation’s rulers.

Here are some other key considerations on JAKIM that need to go into a much needed national discourse on JAKIM and its proper role in the national economy: