DPM: Cabinet unaware of umrah visa scheme

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi addressing the 42nd Pemadam Annual General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, December 17, 2017. — Bernama pic
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi addressing the 42nd Pemadam Annual General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, December 17, 2017. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The Cabinet was not informed about the details of the now-cancelled Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (IMAMS) for umrah visa applications, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

The deputy prime minister said that federal ministers were only briefed about a system that would manage the registration of groups already handling umrah travel and packages, and for them to abide by set rules.

“The discussion at the Cabinet level had not included the appointment of any companies to manage the monitoring system let alone to have it outsourced.

“Certain monitoring procedure was also implemented to ensure the Muslim pilgrimage would not be victimised,” said Zahid at a press conference after the launch of the Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) 42nd Annual General Assembly, here, today.

Zahid had dismissed allegations that the sudden cancellation of IMAMS was a political gimmick, saying instead that the move was made based on the public feedback.

While there were no political agenda behind the cancellation, the DPM said he had concerns about IMAMS’ top management team.

“This is especially when the (chief executive officer) had never performed Umrah, but want to be the (chief executive officer). This should have not happened,” he said.

As the Cabinet Committee on Tourism chairman, Zahid said he will call for a special committee meeting to look into a mechanism that would be run by a government agency to ensure groups handling umrah travel and packages would not victimise Muslim pilgrims.

He said discussion had been held with the Tourism and Culture ministry and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), whereby the latter will handover all aspects of registrations of the pilgrims to the ministry.

“Too many had been swindled by cheap offers and packages by unregistered companies.

“I will have the ministry to set a policy, a standard operating procedure, and a monitoring system of other systems that would be used, now that IMAMS had been cancelled,” he said.

Yesterday, the umrah visa applications was discontinued, after taking into account industry feedback and public complaints.

IMAMS was set to be the sole authority for visa applications to perform the umrah and was introduced to prevent fraudsters targeting would-be pilgrims.

The scheme that came into effect yesterday charged each applicant a total fee of RM90.10; RM45 for processing, RM40 for a takaful insurance scheme, and 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST).

The RM45 processing fee was the lowest among other countries that have similar systems. 

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