By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
When Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, announced his 100-day challenge to his ‘new ministers’ who in actual fact are mostly not so new, I took it upon myself to propose my KPI for certain ministries that I am most interested in.
I feel that I have a right to do so because firstly, I am a citizen and the owner of this country. Secondly, the ministers are my representatives and paid by my tax ringgit.
So I feel clearly justified to provide at least a ‘suggestion’ if not a direct order.
The minister that I choose to take to task in this article is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Religion.
The first issue I wish to clarify is why is it that the Minister in charge of Religion keeps making himself busy 100% with Islam only? If that be the case, then why not call it the Minister in charge of Islam?
Of course, this would probably irk the royalty who, all of us know, are the historical and political ‘heads’ of Islam in this country.
Anyway, how would we justify this portfolio to be just for Muslims and Islam when tax ringgit are used to pay the salaries of the minister and the rest of the hundreds of workers in that portfolio?
I, for one, feel that the Minister in charge of Religion should pay equal concerns to all the religions in this country.’
For me, this portfolio should only have three simple and clear objectives.
Firstly, it should facilitate any issues with regards to the development of each and every religion in this country by way of providing expert services, a modest budget and a secretariat.
Secondly, this ministerial portfolio should also encourage the understanding of all these religions among Malaysians in terms of its main communal values as well as some important rituals and celebrations. All the children of Malaysia must be able to identify and appreciate the basic history, rituals, days and values of the religions in this country.
Thirdly, the ministry should find ways and means to educate Malaysians on the cross-spiritual values and lessons that can be a nation building tool for society.
Thus, for the first 100 days, I propose two KPI for the first objective.
The first KPI is to meet all the representatives of each religion and ask them to present a modest developmental budget for the education and performance of rituals. The budget should more or less be proportionate to the number of adherents of each religion.
The second KPI is for the representatives to provide community specific issues with regards to rules and regulations on the siting of shrines, houses of worship and other needs that may be problematic in some ways.
The minister would take up these issues with the relevant local authority as well as community leaders of the locality.
For the second objective, I propose three KPI. The first KPI is to visit one of each of the houses of worship other than the mosque in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular.
For the next KPI, I propose that the minister deliver an important speech at these places of worship on the subject of the historical, spiritual and communal contributions of the particular religion to the growth of Malaysia as a nation.
This act would dispel notions and ideas of visiting a religious building of another faith is taboo or will result in untold sins or conversion to that religion. This would help people become at ease with all the faiths in this country and develop a better communal relationship.
The third KPI is to set up an inter-religious committee at each of the federal territories. These committees will comprise of representative of all the religions in that area. They will meet at least 4 times a year rotating the meeting place at each houses of worship in turns. This committee will organize important events, celebrations and get-togethers at each houses of worship with budget prepared by the PM Department on Religion.
For the third objective, I propose three KPIs. For the first KPI, the Minister can set up a committee of academics to look at the teaching pedagogy and curriculum of religion in each faith’s religious school and propose an additional model of Global Spirituality that would make the learners feel connected with all religions and also respect each faith as well as treat every believer with dignity.
For the second KPI, the Minister can also propose a training budget for teaching religious teachers on the concept of the Global Spirituality.
For the third KPI, the Minister in charge of Religion can propose 20 Fellowship programs for individuals to immerse themselves in a faith other than their own in a participatory research program with a house of worship and a university. The Fellowship candidates can immerse themselves in specific research that would be used in public talks, media writings, journal productions and book publications.
Thus, these are the seven KPIs from a citizen who is concerned that thus far, this particular portfolio has been a waste of money for the tax payers as it has no justifiable returns.
The ministry is NOT just for Islam but for the forging of appreciation of religious beliefs among our people. With such a KPI, I am confident that we will eliminate religious conflicts in less than a decade.
The ball is now in the minister’s side of the playing field. Will you take it up YB Minister?
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)