Najib’s former aide: Break up Tabung Haji into two for ease of managing

IF indeed a control body is required to supervise Pilgrims Fund Board or Tabung Haji, then the Security Commission (SC) should be the most suitable option because the former is an asset management company or a fund managing company.

Moreover, placing Tabung Haji under Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is out of place given the fund does not provide bank loan to the public nor is Tabung Haji a credit/lending institution or insurance company.

Such is the opinion of former Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) CEO Saiful Bahari Baharom who claimed to have proposed for Tabung Haji to be broken up into two divisions during the administration of former Premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The two proposed divisions are:

  • The fund management division responsible for managing future Hajj savings which is professionally administered by a certified and licensed fund manager from the SC; and
  • A division to oversee the Hajj management operations.
Saiful Bahari Baharom

“Both divisions shall have their own board of directors and CEOs as well as belong to the parent body of the Tabung Haji board. This means there are three separate boards of directors to administer Tabung Haji,” explained Saiful Bahari who was also Najib’s former special officer.

Recently, the Finance Ministry announced that the Cabinet at its meeting agreed to improve the overall management and operations of Tabung Haji which involved a proposed new model and review of the Tabung Haji Act 1995.

The Cabinet also agreed with the listing of Tabung Haji as an Islamic financial institution as provided for under Section 223 of the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 and supervised by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

On Sunday (July 18), Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri contended that placing Tabung Haji under BNM’s supervision will not erode the rights of the Minister in the PM’s Department (Religious Affairs) and Muslims over the pilgrims fund board.

This, according to him, was especially so in terms of operations and coordination of hajj pilgrimage for Muslims in line with Section 10 of the Tabung Haji Act 1995.

“The Minister in the PM’s Department (Religious Affairs) will also remain as the minister responsible for Tabung Haji in ensuring the rights of Muslims and future hajj pilgrims are protected,” Zulkifli said in a statement.

Elaborating further on his idea of breaking up Tabung Haji, Saiful Bahari said the Hajj management division must submit budget paper annually to the fund management division for the expenses required during the forthcoming financial year to manage hajj work operations based on quota received from the Saudi Arabia Government.

“Therefore, there is no room where the board and CEO (as well as senior management officers) are the same individuals managing the funds as well as spending the funds at the same time,” he suggested.

Alas, Saiful Bahari’s well-thought idea never get to be reviewed even though it has been accepted by Najib given the unfavourable outcome to the Najib-led Barisan Nasional after the 14th General Election (14GE). – July 21, 2021

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