27 March 2008

Shape up or ship out, Islamic officers told

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Officers working with Islamic agencies must support Government policies or be prepared to leave their jobs.

Newly-appointed Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it was still not too late for these officers to "realise their ideals" elsewhere.

"This is a reminder for them for the sake of our ummah (citizens).

"The impression the public has of religious officers or those schooled in Islamic affairs is that they have closed minds, are intolerant of other opinions and are slow in implementing our policies.

"I want do away with this negative perception," he told reporters after being briefed on his duties by former minister Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin at his office here Thursday. Also at the ceremony was deputy minister Datuk Dr Mashita Ibrahim.

Zahid's portfolio includes managing religious affairs and agencies such as the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

He said he wanted to use his professional background as an administrator to ensure that these Islamic agencies were more well-run.

"Together with my deputy's scholarly background in Islam, I am sure we can work together to revamp our image," he said.

Zahid said there was truth to reports that the non-Muslim community had been restless recently due to certain decisions taken by Islamic agencies.

"The Prime Minister has advised us to correct this image by explaining the teachings of Islam. We will fix this problem," he promised.

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