Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the system to manage umrah visas was cancelled because it was not what he had wanted.
He told FMT that someone in his ministry had misunderstood his intention and what he was looking to implement.
Nazri, who is on a working visit to Germany, was talking about the Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (Imams) which was cancelled a day after its implementation.
He instructed that the implementation of the system be cancelled to avoid confusion.
The ministry’s secretary-general Rashidi Hasbullah told Astro Awani the decision to cancel the Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (Imams) was made following brickbats from the public and feedback from industry players.
Imams would have been the sole authority for visa applications to perform the umrah.
The scheme charged applicants a total fee of RM90.10 which included fees for processing, a takaful insurance scheme, and the 6% GST rate.
Nazri said the implementation of Imams was nothing like what he had envisaged and that was the real reason for its cancellation.
“I had told parliament during the budget winding-up that the fee for the system was supposed to be RM40, which includes processing and insurance, not RM90,” he said.
“On top of that, I said it was not to be compulsory. It was supposed to be optional because Imams is conducted through a private company, not the government.
“Therefore, those who want to use Imams are supposed to pay RM40 and those who don’t aren’t compelled to do so.”
According to reports, Tourism and Culture Deputy Minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin had introduced the system yesterday to better manage the umrah pilgrims, strengthen its regulatory management system as well as snuff out errant operators.
The Umrah Regulatory Management Council, in an announcement, made it mandatory for all the 65 travel agencies accorded with the Muasassah (umrah special licence) to adopt and comply with the system.
“The statement made yesterday was incorrect,” Nazri said. “I’m currently in Germany and so – in order to avoid confusion – I told them cancel everything.”
Meanwhile, Mas Ermieyati said she was initially not aware that several non-Muslims were top executives at Imams.
She said she only came to know about it after an official at the ministry checked on the matter.
“We only got to know about this after the issue arose and we felt that this should not have happened,” she said at a press conference.
A crestfallen Mas Ermieyati said even though the non-Muslim executives had resigned, it was too late to repair the damage that had been done due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
Earlier today, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution asked if a matter involving Muslims going on pilgrimage was being managed by non-Muslims.
“A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) showed that Integrated Manasik System Sdn Bhd had one Malay director and three Chinese individuals, listed as Company Secretary,” said Saifuddin, who is also strategic adviser to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Hours after the tourism and culture ministry announced the cancellation, Prime Minister Najib Razak said he welcomed it.
Najib tweeted: “I disagree with the Imams system being used for Umrah visas. The announcement that it was cancelled is the right one.”