We cannot still be complacent, says minister

Azlan Othman & Rokiah Mahmud

The Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) not only endured it but took a practical approach during the bleak period when mosques were closed during Ramadhan and Sunnat Aidilfitri prayers could not be performed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This was said by Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman during a dialogue with Legislative Council (LegCo) members during their visit to the MoRA yesterday.

“Alhamdulillah, we fulfilled our fasting obligations, and also performed the Sunnat Tarawikh and Aidilfitri prayers at home with our families. We celebrated Hari Raya according to standard operating procedures (SOPs), which were legitimised by the Syarak principles.

“The Haj and Umrah pilgrimages were also suspended. Appearing beside Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar to announce the closure of mosques, as well as the suspension of Haj and Umrah, was far from easy, but we chose a suitable approach.

“We must remember not to be complacent, as the COVID-19 situation is still a cause for concern, with the emergence of new strains.”

Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit on behalf of the LegCo members requested more details on strategic issues such as housing and assistance for the advancement of the poor and destitute; assistance for education and entrepreneurship; and efforts to tackle poverty through the dissemination of statistics.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman speaks during a dialogue with Legislative Council members. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN & ROKIAH MAHMUD
ABOVE & BELOW: Legislative Council members during the dialogue; and Legislative Council members take a closer look at an exhibition at the ministry

He also commended Al-Quran literacy programmes carried out by Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) to broaden Al-Quran studies.

Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad, Yang Berhormat Haji Emran bin Haji Sabtu, Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad and Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Pengiran Dato Seri Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar were also present.

The visit aimed at providing a clearer view to LegCo members on the challenges encountered by the MoRA towards efforts in addressing the issues.

The minister and Permanent Secretary at the MoRA Mohammad Rosli bin Haji Ibrahim welcomed the delegates.

The LegCo members also took a closer look at an exhibition showcasing initiatives by the department.

Acting Secretary of MUIB Haji Abdul Aziz bin Haji Akop briefed on the roles and functions of Zakat Collection and Distribution of Department of MUIB.

The Permanent Secretary at the MoRA chaired the meeting. The LegCo members were taken to the Operation Centre for National Welfare System (SKN) where they were briefed by Head of Investigation Unit at the Zakat Collection and Distribution Division Abdul Ishraq bin Haji Ismail.

Meanwhile, a second group of LegCo members visited Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah in Kiarong, where they took a closer look at guidance courses for new mosque officers, along with an intensive guidance programme for mosque affairs officers, Muslimah guidance classes, an exhibition on the provision of the Friday sermon and its processes, and the management of funds for mosque construction.

The LegCo members also visited the Muslimah section of the Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah, where they offered ideas to teachers on Al-Quran recitation through the Murattal technique.

The Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs and Deputy Permanent Secretary at the MoRA Haji Mohd Serudin bin Haji Timbang welcomed the delegation.