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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

Duterte only suffered muscle spasms, advised to rest – Go

first_img“May mga medisina na dapat… At kailangan po magpahinga ang Pangulo.He was advised to rest. Rest, rest kailangantalaga,” said Go. MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte was advised by his doctors to take a rest in the nextfew days following his motorcycle accident in the grounds of Malañang lastweek, his former aide Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said. Go added thatafter undergoing an MRI scan early Wednesday morning, doctors found that thePresident experienced muscle spasms when he complained of back pains . In a Facebook live taken by Go on Tuesday evening, President Duterte said that he felt the pain while getting up from bed to brush his teeth during his shortened Japan visit. “Ako na po ang mag a-assure sa inyo, nothing to worry, purely musclespasms po ‘yun at kailangan lang po niyang pahinga ng ating Pangulo,” he added. Go, however,refused to name the hospital where the President was checked President Rodrigo Duterte is seen clutching on a cane while he is in Japan to join world leaders in witnessing the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo on Tuesday. PCOO “Ang kinabahala namin at first kung tinamaan ang kanyang spine since itwas unbearable pain nga po angnararamdaman niya kahapon. Perosalamat po sa Panginoon at wala naman pong dapat ikabahala at tiningnan talagang doctor habang ginagawa yungMRI,” Go said. Duterte complained of pain in his hips after falling from a motorcycle ride inside the Malacanang Palace last week but insisted that he will continue riding. “Alam mo, about four days ago, sumpemplang ako sa motorcycle. Pag nag mo-motor ka, once or twice sa buhay mo, makatikim ka talaga ng semplang,” President Duterte said. “Lahat ng mga nagmomotor sumesemplang. Kagaya sa akin, ang ano lang, parang hindi ko matiis… ‘Yung sa belt banda, mga three inches medyo masakit talaga,” he added./PNlast_img read more

SENIORS – Beware of New Social Security Robocall Scam

first_imgFLORIDA – Some South Florida residents who are Social Security beneficiaries have in recent weeks been receiving unexpected robocalls allegedly from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the Federal Trade Commission is aggressively warning that this is a scam which has been spreading across the nation, and are urging seniors not to respond to the calls.The scammers target individuals by calling their phone through a robocall and claiming their Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime.Robo messageTypically the rob- call message left is: “This call is from the department of social security administration. The reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspend your social security number because we found some suspicious activity. So, if you want to know about this case just press 1 thank you.”In those calls or voicemails, sometimes the scammer wants the individuals called to confirm their SSN, reactivate it or they’ll say their bank account is about to be seized.Preventative stepsThe FTC cautions those receiving these calls whatever the message on the call says not to fall for it. It’s a scam and that’s not the real Social Security Administration calling. The scamis a growing concern for officials, as according to the FTC says so far this year more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, with victims having lost over $10 million.The FTC further cautions anyone who receives these calls should not answer the call, and if they do answer hang up immediately on hearing the message., and never pressed the number 1 as requested. Doing this will indicate to the scammer that they have reached the person their targeting and could open further calls and efforts to scam.One of the main reasons for targeting seniors with this SS scam is that most beneficiaries are very dependent on their monthly SS payment, and maybe quick to respond to the calls if they hear their accounts are being cancelled or their bank account closed.The FTC says be suspicious of any call from a government agency since those agencies don’t call residents with threats or promises or demands for money. Only Scammers do. Don’t trust caller ID – even if it might look like a real call from the SSA, don’t trust it. Never give any caller information like bank account and/or Social Security, and never make a payment. And, always check with the real agency the call is purported to be coming from.The Federal Trade Commission says If you’re worried, hang up and call the SSA yourself at 1-800-772-1213. If you’ve already received one of these robocall Social Security Scams, contact them with a complaint.last_img read more