THE government knew about the Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (IMAMS) before it was launched, says Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, but was not fully aware of the details involved in its implementation.

“We were not informed of the company that would be in charge of the system or the outsourcing part.

“But we acknowledged that companies offering umrah and haj packages have to be registered and that certain regulations need to be in place and monitored so that people who want to engage their services will not be cheated,” he said.

He said that the system was cancelled following objection from business operators and not because of any political agenda.

“I dont think there was any political motive in this case. But I could smell something was not right if there were people trying to take advantage of the system,” he said.

He said such a system should have not been implemented and expressed his sympathy with the tourism minister, who had to chair a meeting to decide on the system, subsequently leading to its cancellation.

Earlier today, Zahid held a meeting with Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz on the issue, and was briefed on the system and why it was cancelled.

In applauding the cancellation, Zahid said that another meeting at the cabinet level would be held to find a better mechanism to ensure that those who wanted to go on umrah and haj were not cheated of their monies. He said the mechanism would be handled by the government.

IMAMS was cancelled yesterday after drawing flak from groups over various concerns, including that non-Muslims would manage the system.

Prime Minister Najib Razak also expressed his disapproval of the system.

“I do not agree with IMAMS’ implementation on umrah pilgrims. The announcement to cancel was timely,” the prime minister posted on Twitter while in Bahrain.

Saya tidak bersetuju sistem IMAMS dikenakan untuk urusan visa Umrah . Pengumuman ianya dibatalkan adalah sangat tepat .

Under the scrapped system, all visa applications for those undertaking the umrah would have been processed by the Saudi Arabian embassy, a measure aimed to curb fraud.

The system was meant to be compulsory for umrah visa applications and would have been imposed on all 65 tourism agencies that handled umrah in Malaysia.

Pilgrims would have had to pay RM90.10 each for the application, which included takaful (insurance), system charges and goods and services tax (GST).

Critics of the system, which included the Umrah and Haj Tourism Agencies Association (Papuh), said it was unreasonable as there were existing visa application systems that were free and cheaper insurance options.

– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com