THE deputy minister who announced the start of a controversial visa application system for umrah pilgrims, which was halted a day after it began, was almost in tears at a press conference today as she explained that she did not know it would be managed by a company run by non-Muslims.
Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, the deputy minister of tourism and culture, admitted she did not have information about the company and the Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (IMAMS) which she earlier said was aimed at curbing fraud involving umrah packages.
"That information was not there (when it was provided to me)
“I got the letter in the afternoon after my media conference (yesterday) and I asked my officer again. The information was not there and I am very disappointed,” she told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today, an hour after tweeting that the IMAMS, which would begin yesterday, was now cancelled.
She said after her press conference yesterday when she announced the system, she was told of concerns that one of the company’s executives was a non-Muslim.
This evening, Prime Minister Najib Razak also tweeted his disapproval of the system.
“I disagree with the IMAMS system imposed on visa matters for those performing the umrah. The announcement that is has been cancelled is very appropriate,” Najib tweeted.
The system has been criticised for its additional charge of RM90.10 per umrah pilgrim when other visa application systems to perform the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were available for free.
The charge also included takaful (insurance) for umrah pilgrims but the Umrah and Haj Tourism Agencies Association (Papuh) said there was cheaper insurance available. – December 16, 2017.
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