COS 2021: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap (Aljunied): Sir, in Malay.

(In Malay)[Please refer to Vernacular Speech.] Sir, the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore, just like the rest of the country, is aware and concerned towards current issues that we face. It is the nature of Malays to help each other, as the Malay proverb goes – “shoulder any burden together”. In preventing the spread of COVID-19, for instance, they have been swift in complying with all health measures, such as closing the mosques to curb any coronavirus infection here.

Sir, I am proud that the Malay/Muslim community here remains strong and united despite many tests and challenges. It just that lately, some members of the community and our asatizah have complained that when crucial issues are voiced out or problems are raised, there are no clear answers from the authorities responsible for managing our welfare, needs and well-being. 

I would like to ask some questions arising from my monitoring of discussions in social media and in person, in order to get some clarification and enlightenment on these issues, so that whatever seems murky will be clear, whatever seems foggy will be visible. 

These issues that will be raised are, first of all, deviant teachings; second, the halal certification management; and thirdly, the issues of governance and financial management involving Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah 

Sir, in November last year, the Straits Times published a report on deviant teaching involving a man who has a number of wives. Although it was the only local newspaper report on the issue, some parties have said that the complaints against this individual have been raised a number of years ago. 

My questions are: When was the first complaint received by MUIS about this individual who practice deviant teaching? 

Second, why was further investigation only carried out after it was reported in the newspaper? 

Third, what was the outcome of MUIS’ investigation so far? 

Fourth, are the AMLA provisions sufficient or should it be reviewed and amended to strengthen its effectiveness in addressing deviant teachings?

The second issue is about allegations of possible misconduct in governance and abuse of power in the management of halal certificates. 

I would like to request that the findings of the Internal Investigation Team led by MUIS Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Albakri Ahmad, and the Independent Review Panel chaired by Mr Abdul Hamid Abdullah, be presented in full to Parliament for the sake of transparency and accountability. MUIS said that it has reported this matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). 

What was referred to CPIB if it is true that “MUIS’ investigation does not find evidence” of corruption or abuse of power? As the Malays say, “a tree does not sway if there is no wind”.

Subsequently, MUIS completed its investigation and announced its findings on 15 December 2020, but two weeks later on 29 December 2020, there was a report from across the Causeway about the halal meat certificate scandal in Malaysia. 

New questions emerged after several reports over there linked Singapore and certain individuals from MUIS in this matter. I cite the following report: 

(In English): The Islamic Development Department (Jakim), does not discount the possibility that non-certified meat has been smuggled into the country and later sold as halal products. Jakim Research Division, Senior Director, Datuk Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee, in acknowledging this, said such cases had occurred in other countries. Speaking in a special live interview via the Department’s Facebook page, he said, “Jakim learned in a past forum that such cases has occurred in Singapore, because of this, Indonesia does not trust (halal) meat from Singapore. The non-certified meat reportedly entered the warehouse at the port and the packaging was changed, then stamped with a halal label. So, it is not impossible for this to happen in Malaysia today”.

(In Malay)[Please refer to Vernacular Speech.] My questions for the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs are as follows:

What efforts or actions have MUIS taken to refute the statement by Datuk Dr Sirajuddin, which sounds worryingly like an accusation, and could affect Muslims’ trust in the halal certification process here?

Second, has MUIS conducted any investigation and who is leading the investigation, following the statement by Datuk Dr Sirajuddin?

Third, is it true that the individual linked to the viral picture in social media is the Assistant Director in MUIS’ Halal Strategic Unit?

Fourth, is it true that he is now the Executive Director of the Mosque-Madrasah-Wakaf Shared Services? And if so, why has this individual been moved to a different role if no offence took place? Was he promoted in December 2020?

Fifth, in the investigation report by MUIS on 15 December 2020, MUIS made known its concern about leaked information in the form of emails, which it claims violate the Official Secrets Act. What is the result of that investigation?

Sir, the third issue is about governance and financial management involving Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah or, in short, Madrasah Irsyad. My questions are as follows:

First, what is the amount of capital provided by Madrasah Irsyad to set up the Irsyad Trust Limited, which was originally called Irsyad Foundation Limited?

Second, what is the extent and jurisdiction of Madrasah Irsyad in the feasibility of setting up a subsidiary, in this regard, Irsyad Trust Limited?

Third, is it true that a Senior Director of Madrasah from MUIS has resigned in 2016, and then allowed to become CEO of Irsyad Trust Limited?

Four, what was the reason for the resignation of this Senior Director of Madrasah from MUIS? 

Fifth, who approved his appointment as CEO of Irsyad Trust Limited? 

Sixth question, where did Madrasah Irsyad obtain the capital that was used to create Irsyad Trust Limited?

Seven, I went to the three official websites of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Madrasah Irsyad and Irsyad Trust Limited, and saw that none of them contained any declaration about their connection to one another, so can you explain why this is so?

Eight, how does MUIS monitor, examine and perform “Checks and Balances” on Irsyad Trust Limited?

Finally, Sir, I hope to get a clear and detailed answer from the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs to all the questions raised in order to remove any doubts within the community about the credibility of the bodies involved. 

Sir, if the Minister cannot provide a comprehensive answer at this session due to certain factors or reasons, I request that the Minister do so through a media statement or by issuing a statement through social media channels. 

Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
8 March 2021

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