KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 – The cost of paying 31,460 contract religious teachers accounts for about half the annual budget allocation to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), says the government.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh, who holds the Islamic affairs portfolio, said this in an interview with business radio station, BFM, today.
She denied that most of the money was being used to run Jakim.
“I would like to bring to your attention that half of that budget is to pay for the contract teachers. It is not all for the administration of Jakim,” she said.
Giving contract teachers full-time jobs
Fuziah also suggested that Jakim’s budget could be reduced by giving these teachers full-time jobs and placing them under a different agency or ministry.
“But once we put these contract teachers under a full time scheme, then maybe we can put their emolument elsewhere so Jakim’s budget will not look too bloated,” she told BFM.
In the Dewan Rakyat last month, Fuziah revealed that the 31,460 teachers conduct Quran and Fardu Ain (Kafa) classes for 973,055 students in 5,609 premises across the country. She added that they are paid RM900 each per month, aside from RM117 per teacher being the government’s EPF contribution. These amount to more than RM383 million every year.
Previous allegations that Jakim budget misused
The questions raised in the past over the high allocation led many to allege that the funds were being misused. It is also suggested that the funds are used for greater enforcement against Muslims in areas outside its purview.
The 2018 Budget allocation for Jakim was increased to RM810.89 million from the RM744.95 million allocated last year.
“I am looking into that, I’m looking into their training and qualifications. We are bridging the gap and we are trying to do something progressive with regards to their positions,” she said.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously been reported as saying that the operations of Jakim will be reviewed.
Former chief secretary to the government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid chairs the review committee. The review is expected to be completed by the end of this year.