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Lawmakers grill religious affairs minister for ‘sudden’ haj cancellation

first_imgReligious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi found himself in hot water during a hearing with the House of Representatives on Thursday, as lawmakers on Commission VIII overseeing religious affairs criticized him for not consulting with the House before deciding to cancel the 2020 haj pilgrimage over coronavirus concerns.The minister announced earlier this month that Indonesia would prevent haj departures to Saudi Arabia this year, a decision that affected hundreds of thousands of would-be pilgrims in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Indonesia has the largest haj pilgrim quota of any country. John Kennedy Azis of the Golkar Party – a political party in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s ruling coalition – questioned Fachrul’s sudden announcement of the policy on June 2, saying there had been no pressure for the central government to announce it immediately without consulting the legislative body.”There was no external pressure that we would be fined if we didn’t decide [on haj departures] quickly. Why couldn’t you wait for just two days? Why so sudden?” John said, referring to a planned House hearing with the government on the matter scheduled for June 4.The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s indefinite suspension of haj and umrah (minor haj), were cited as reasons behind the government’s decision to cancel this year’s haj departure. Fachrul previously said the conditions had left the government without enough time to prepare visas and protective measures.Indonesia initially planned to send about 221,000 people on the annual pilgrimage, and nearly 180,000 people had already paid for the journey, Religious Affairs Ministry data shows. The government said the pilgrims would be placed on next year’s haj. Read also: Religious affairs minister to lobby Saudi Arabian government for bigger 2021 haj quotaFachrul said at the time of the cancellation that he had communicated with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the House regarding the cancellation, but some lawmakers quickly fired back, saying he had not done so.John said to Fachrul – a retired military general – that he had made numerous controversial moves as a minister.The politician cited his past controversial support of a ban on the niqab in government compounds – a statement that Fachrul later backtracked from – and his past announcement of a plan to repatriate 689 people who had joined the Islamic State (IS) movement in the Middle East.He warned Fachrul that the House could use its interpellation and inquiry rights against him or could write a letter to the President if he continued his controversies. “Don’t underestimate us at the House […] This should be the last [controversial move].”John also highlighted a plan floated by Aceh to get their own, separate haj quota. The provincial administration was reportedly considering issuing a qanun (regulation) on the matter based on Law No. 44/1999 on Aceh’s special autonomy.”Regions are trying to apply for haj quotas themselves. If that happens, then where’s the government?” he said.Read also: Plan to ban niqab in government offices stirs controversyMuhammad Husni of the Gerindra Party said Fachrul had violated Law No. 8/2019 on the haj and umrah, which stipulated that matters related to haj funds should not be decided unilaterally by the government but should include the House.”Logically speaking, we should decide on the cancellation together. The Minister said that he had coordinated with House Commission VIII but we never knew that,” Husni said.In response to the criticism, Fachrul apologized to the lawmakers during Thursday’s hearing, saying the cancellation decision was not made by his ministry but by himself as a minister.”I personally apologize to the leaders and all members of the House Commission VIII for this incident,” said Fachrul.The minister explained that at that time, he felt obliged to announce the cancellation as soon as possible because it had exceeded the June 1 deadline for the government to announce the year’s haj departure date.Indonesia initially expected Saudi Arabia to announce its final decision on the haj pilgrimage – which attracts millions of Muslims annually from around the world – on May 13. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the 2020 haj into doubt as Saudi authorities have yet to announce any decision about whether they will accept haj pilgrims this year.”We needed to quickly give certainty to the pilgrims who had been waiting for the announcement,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

Chart of the Week: DC overtakes DB in top seven pension markets

first_imgDB and DC assets (%)Chart MakerIn the Netherlands, the proportion of DC assets remained at 6%, the same as in the 2017 report. DC assets in the UK decreased from 19% to 18% last year, largely as a result of a recalculation by the country’s Office for National Statistics.Total assetsDC capital grew by 7.6% a year on average over the past 20 years, while DB assets averaged just 3.2% a year.Combined pension assets of the world’s 22 largest markets dropped 3.3% to €35.6trn last year, the report said.Dutch assets fell from €1.42trn to €1.35trn, while the UK’s combined assets declined from €3.11trn to €2.53trn.Although Dutch pension assets as a proportion of GDP fell from 193.8% to 167%, this was still the highest ratio of the 22 surveyed countries.The UK saw its pension assets relative to GDP decrease from 121.3% to 101.7% last year, while Switzerland’s ratio was 126%.At €21.9trn, the US was the largest of the surveyed pension markets.Asset allocationThe study also showed that the Netherlands, the UK and Japan had an above-average allocation to bonds.Dutch and UK fixed income investments amounted to 54% and 53% of assets, respectively, while Japan’s bond allocation was 60%.Swiss pension funds had the highest exposure to alternatives, with 31%.Top seven markets’ averageasset allocation (%)Chart MakerCommenting the study results last year, Jacco Heemskerk, Willis Towers Watson’s head of investment in the Netherlands, argued that the conservative investment policy of Dutch pensions funds was eroding the purchasing power of their participants. Defined contribution (DC) pension funds have more assets than defined benefit (DB) funds across the world’s seven biggest pension markets, according to Willis Towers Watson’s Thinking Ahead Institute.The institute’s Global Pension Assets Study analysed data from 22 of the largest pension markets. The top seven – Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the US – accounted for 91% of assets covered by the report.Across those seven countries, DC assets were estimated to be “slightly over 50%” of total pension assets, the Thinking Ahead Institute reported – although this was primarily as a result of the dominance of DC in the US, the world’s biggest pension market by assets.Australia and the US were predominantly DC markets, but Japan and Canada were “showing an increasing allocation towards DC”, the institute said.last_img read more

President Trump officially registered to vote in Palm Beach County

first_imgPresident Donald Trump and the First Lady are officially registered to vote in Florida.They registered about a month after making Mar-A-Lago their new primary residence.Trump announced this fall he would make Florida his primary residence, instead of New York’s Trump Tower, ahead of the 2020 election.Trump will be holding a campaign rally in South Florida, Nov. 26.The rally will double as a voter registration drive.He and his wife will reportedly vote at Precinct 7154, the Central Fire-Rescue Station, 355 S. County Rd in Palm Beach.last_img read more

Disney cruise employee charged with raping a 13-year-old

first_imgA Disney cruises employee has been arrested for raping a young girl multiple times over the course of about 3 years.53-year-old Keith Seitz who works for the for Disney Vacation Club, was arrested on November 25th after the victim told her mother about Seitz’ actions towards her.According to the report, the now 13-year-old told her mother that Seitz would rape her at his home and at one point took photos of her which he said he would use on the cruise.The victim told her mother that Seitz first began molesting her at his home in 2016 when she was 10-years-old. The abuse then escalated to rape when the victim turned 11 and the abuse continued until October of 2019.At the time the incident was brought to authorities, Seitz was said to have been out to sea but was scheduled to return to land the next day. When Seitz arrived, he was taken into custody.Seitz is now facing two counts of sexual battery on a child under 12, two counts of sexual battery on a physically helpless person, and one count of lewd or lascivious molestation on a victim under 12.He was also ordered not to have contact with the victim, or children under 18.Disney has since placed Seitz on unpaid leave.last_img read more