TOURISM and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz needs to take responsibility for the integrated manasik monitoring system (IMAMS) fiasco instead of blaming it on his officers.

More so, when his own parliamentary reply shows he clearly knew the RM90.10 fee for umrah pilgrims included GST, said opposition lawmakers.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said Nazri’s statement on Saturday blaming his officers over the misunderstanding that occurred in the implementation of IMAMSthat led to its cancellation was only an excuse.

“Nazri was abroad and hence he did not have time to check the Hansard. So, when he has to explain why the system, which was only launched a day before had to be cancelled, he could not give a reason that did not contradict with what was stated in Parliament.

“The truth is he has to make up an excuse and it proved that the system was cancelled because of pressure from various groups,”   Khalid told The Malaysian Insight.

Nazri, during his trip to Germany, said the system handling the visa process for pilgrims was cancelled because someone in his ministry misunderstood his vision and what he wanted to implement.

However, his reply in Dewan Rakyat on November 13 showed that Padang Rengas MP knew that the IMAMS fee included GST.

He was replying to Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, who asked what pilgrims have to pay to IMAMS.

“I would like to advise Nazri to make it a habit to create stories like his party president (Najib Razak) about the contribution from Arabs and so on because it will only show that he was lying,” said the Amanah communication director.

Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar, who was shocked over Nazri’s statement, advised him to not follow Najib’s footstep by taking the easy way out and blaming others.

“I believe in the Hansard. And Nazri was aware of what he was saying and his statement was approved by the cabinet,” he said.

Mahfuz said he is confident that the implementation of IMAMS was brought up in the cabinet and approved as Nazri was confident in his reply to Zailah in the Dewan Rakyat recently.

“I would like to advise Nazri to be calm in facing the public’s wrath but not to the extent of blaming his officers because Nazri himself provided the answers in Parliament.

“Najib took the safer route. He should have said he did not agree with the system before its implementation.   Not yesterday. But sadly, Najib should have known about it earlier.”

Najib tweeted on Saturday that he did not agree with the implementation of the system.

IMAMS was cancelled yesterday following criticism from various parties a day after its implementation.

Another opposition leader, Idris Ahmad, said Nazri should tell the truth and not pass the blame to others.

“We hope that all ministers in Malaysia are truthful. If wrong then say you are wrong, if you said it wrongly then say so, do not say it was not your instructions.”

He said officers will not decide on these things without a minister’s approval.

Idris, who is also PAS deputy president and Bukit Gantang MP, said the cancellation is political.

“I am confident that whatever he was doing was in preparation for the general election.”  

Khalid also drew the same conclusion that the abrupt cancellation was done by Nazri after he realised that his party needs votes from Malays in the 14th general election.

“Nazri probably just realised that Malay votes are important in the general election and it was unwise to implement the charges now.”

IMAMS was launched to protect pilgrims from being cheated.

However, many parties asked why the company handling it was operated by non-Muslims and the additional cost of RM90.10, including GST.

Kuala Nerus MP Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, who was in Parliament when Nazri responded to the question on IMAMS, said the issue of misunderstanding should have never cropped up.

“The minister explained IMAMS in his speech in a debate on the budget.

“So for me, the issue (misunderstanding with his officers) should have never been come up. What is obvious is the pressure against IMAMS on two issues – tax in ibadah and the involvement of non-Muslims in the religious work of Muslims.”

He also questioned Nazri’s statement that the system was not aimed at making a profit.

“The pilgrims’ visa can be handled by Tabung Haji – an agency owned by the people compared with a company owned by individuals.”  

Bukit Katil MP Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should look into case.

“I urge the MACC to investigate this issue as it against the system managed by the government and things smell fishy based on the different statements given by the ministers.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday IMAMS was cancelled because of protests.

The system was also not in line with what was discussed during a cabinet meeting, he said.