ALOR SETAR 24 JANUARY 2016. Timbalan Menteri Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan (KPDNKK) merangkap Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Bakar Bata, Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah pada Sidang Media Kemelut Menteri Besar Kedah di Kediamannya. NSTP/SHARUL HAFIZ ZAM

ALOR STAR – Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah has described Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest remark against the government to the extent of playing the religion card as an act of desperation.

He said the former premier’s allegation that those performing the pilgrimage through the Prime Minister-1Malaysia Development Berhad (PM-1MDB) Foundation Special Haj Programme would not be attaining “haji mabrur” (divinely accepted Haj) was improper and uncalled for.

Ahmad Bashah said it was for Allah, and not Mahathir, to determine if a person’s religious practises are acceptable or otherwise.

“Lately, Mahathir seems to like to give his own edict, that, for example, a person would not be attaining haji mabrur if he performed the pilgrimage through the programme.

“He is desperate, even using the religious sentiment to topple the government. Whoever sponsors our Haj, we should just pray that our religious practises are accepted by Allah, and not for him (Mahathir) to evaluate.

“As humans, we just focus on our religious obligations,” he said after paying a visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan Mergong’s new school session, here, today.

Mahathir had recently allegedly remarked that not attaining haji mabrur was because the sponsorship money for the programme was stolen by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak from 1MDB.

Ahmad Bashah said Mahathir’s claim that the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) is a form of bribery was also irrelevant as it was only a form of aid by the government to ease the burden faced by the rakyat.

“The government’s job is to assist the rakyat, and BR1M is just one of the examples. There are those who receive rice and even groceries and basic needs. This is not called bribery,” he stressed.

Mahathir has been a vocal critic of the government cash aid, claiming that it tantamounted to corruption, adding that it is causing dependency among low-income recipients, who have not shown gratitude for such aid.

Several Barisan Nasional leaders have, however, defended BR1M, with Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak even describing Mahathir’s statement as mind-boggling.

BR1M was raised to RM1,200 for every household earning less than RM3,000 per month under the government’s 2017 federal budget.

– Sundaily