Religious affairs minister steers clear of Zawawi controversy

Zulkifli Mohamad Al Bakri is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

KUALA LUMPUR: The minister for religious affairs, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, has steered clear of controversial remarks by a PAS member of Parliament regarding Christian scripture.

Zulkifli, a former mufti for the Federal Territories, told reporters this evening: “I think it is better to ask the mufti.” He said he did not want to make a comment because people might later say he was talking about a fatwa (religious edict).

The minister had been asked about a remark in the Dewan Rakyat by Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, who alleged that biblical injunctions about drinking alcohol had been “distorted or altered” and that the Bible had formerly outlawed the consumption of alcohol.

His remarks have brought protests from politicians in Sabah and Sarawak, and a Sarawak archbishop who called for a retraction and an apology. A sedition report was also filed against Zawawi in Kuching today.

Zulkifli had been asked to comment while he was at a dakwah event for National Day.

He said the government would announce the names of new members of a technical committee in Jakim, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, this week.

Some previous committee members would be re-appointed based on need, he said.

The main agenda of the new committee is to streamline several matters including amendments to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993.

“We are trying to refine the amendments in time for the next parliamentary session,” he said.

Recently, there was an issue of termination of service of members of the Islamic and Civil Technical Committee effective August 14 even though their contract is supposed to expire at the end of 2021.

Last week, the service contracts of the chairman, Sheikh Ghazali Abdul Rahman, and committee members were terminated on Aug. 14, well ahead of their expiry in 2021.