Where’s the 'meddling' in the affairs of Lembaga Tabung Haji by the Minister of Finance? — Hafiz Hassan

JAN 8 — I am intrigued by rivals-turned-ally Umno and PAS planned protest against the alleged “meddling” of the Ministry of Finance in Lembaga Tabung Haji’s (LTH) affairs.

LTH is a statutory body established under the Tabung Haji Act 1995 (Act 535). Under the Act, the Minister can “meddle” in the affairs of LTH in a number of matters.

Firstly, the Minister may or may not approve what LTH may wish to do even though it is empowered under the Act. Those matters are enumerated in section 4(3) of the Act.

Secondly, the Minister is the one to appoint the Chairman and members of LTH, other than the representatives from the Prime Minister’s Department and the Treasury. The Minister may also at any time revoke the appointment of any member of LTH without assigning any reason (section 6 of the Act).

Thirdly, the Minister may determine the honorarium, traveling and subsistence allowances to be paid to members of LTH (section 7 of the Act).

Fourthly and significantly, the Minister has the power to give directions of a general character not inconsistent with the Act relating to the performance of LTH’s functions and LTH must give effect to all such directions. The Minister also has the power to require information on returns, accounts and other information with respect to the property and activities of LTH from time to time (section 10 of the Act).

And significantly also, the Minister is the one to appoint LTH’s Chief Executive Officer (section 12 of the Act).

Admittedly, the Minister here refers to the Minister charged with the responsibility for pilgrimage (section 2 of the Act). It does not refer to the Minister of Finance. But, has the Minister of Finance been “meddling” with the affairs of LTH by exercising the powers of the Minister in charge of pilgrimage as enumerated above?

Having said this, the Minister of Finance is not without power under the Act. The exercise of LTH’s borrowing powers is subject to the approval of the Minister and the Minister of Finance (section 18 of the Act).

So, where’s the “meddling” in the affairs of LTH by the Minister of Finance?

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.