PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Siti Kasim wants the government to ensure that money given to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) is not used to fund tahfiz schools if Putrajaya decides to maintain the religious body.
She claimed that “hundreds of tahfiz schools” had popped up and were using money channelled through Jakim, adding that the schools had not undergone proper checks and procedural measures before getting the funds.
“Any other school would have to go through a lot of procedures before being permitted to take in children,” she told FMT.
She added that tahfiz schools which were furnished with money were more easily set up.
Siti, who maintains that religion and politics should be kept separate, said parents who wanted to send their children to tahfiz schools had the right to do so. However, she added, they should pay for this themselves.
“People of other religions have to do that. Their religious schools are not being funded by the government,” she said.
“On top of that, they’re also taxpayers, which means that their money is also going to these tahfiz schools.”
Siti’s comments follow Putrajaya’s announcement that a committee will be appointed to decide whether Jakim should continue with its current role or “revert to its original purpose”.
Frequent Jakim critic, Tawfik Ismail, had remarked on the announcement, saying the department should be shut down.
Agreeing with Tawfik, Siti questioned the purpose of Jakim in the first place.
“Some people say that in the beginning, Jakim was set up to counter PAS.
“Why? Ignore PAS. The government has the vehicles and the machinery to tell the public, especially the Malays, what real Islam is, not the kind of Islam PAS or these so-called ulamaks (religious scholars) are preaching.”
Adding that such vehicles included the mainstream media, she said: “You control the mainstream media, use them.”