Imam shortage being tackled, says minister

Hakim Hayat

The Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) is still working on filling positions of Imams and Bilals for mosques in the country to overcome the shortage problem, Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman said.

He was responding to a query by Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong at the ongoing 17th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

He acknowledged the lengthy recruitment process that makes the shortage more evident, but expressed his appreciation to congregants for their understanding.

“The Mosque Affairs Department is taking steps to meet the needs, and the mosques committee are also taking steps to ensure that it can still function well”. The minister also raised the issue of the lack of discipline among mosque officers including the absent of call to prayers (Azan) from mosques in remote areas and instances where the call were made by congregants instead of an officer.

He said that investigations for offences under the existing and enforced regulations are being conducted by the Mosque Affairs Department and depending on its severity, it may be brought to the Discipline Board of the MoRA, where offenders can either be suspended from work, transferred or terminated.

“But how far these actions taken will deter others from committing similar offences is dependent on the individuals’ disposition. Human beings possess a variety of behaviours and capabilities. Therefore, we must remain patient so that Allah the Almighty can give us guidance on how to overcome this,” he added.