GEORGE TOWN: Penang executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari today decried former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s criticism of a non-Muslim DAP representative for handing out zakat aid for Raya at a mosque, saying it would only serve to drive a wedge in the relationship of Malaysians from different religions.
Umno leader Zahid had criticised Penang assemblyman Chris Lee on Umno Online for distributing tithes at a mosque over the weekend, telling him that only Muslims could do so.
Asked to comment on Lee’s actions, Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor said under Islamic jurisprudence, it was okay for non-Muslims to distribute the aid.
In a statement today, Zairil said Zahid should instead explain to Muslims how Islamic institutions in the country had been riddled with corruption under the watch of the previous government.
“Although Lee is not a Muslim, the handing out of tithes was done sincerely. Unfortunately, he has been made a scapegoat for something even the mufti has said is ‘harus’ (permissible).
“Lee has never stolen the people’s money, neither has he used funds from Tabung Haji, Felda and Yapeim corruptly.
“It’s best that Zahid stop thumping his chest in championing Malay and Muslim rights, and explain to the people how these institutions were abused.
“It is clear from this episode that the opposition has run out of issues and has to use such a topic to shift attention from the wrongdoings committed during their time in power,” Zairil said.
Zahid told Umno Online that Lee had interfered in Islamic affairs by handing out tithes and that it was something of a charade.
He said only faithful Muslims could hand out tithes.
It was reported that Penang Zakat channels tithes via several quarters, including Muslim and non-Muslim elected representatives, for distribution to recipients.