Malaysian charities attack envoy over ‘missing donations’ claim

A woman wearing a protective face mask crosses a bridge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 19, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 22 February 2020

Malaysian charities attack envoy over ‘missing donations’ claim

  • Aid for Al-Aqsa Mosque ‘unaccounted for,’ according to Palestinian ambassador

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian NGOs have demanded Palestinian Ambassador Walid Abu Ali apologize for his claim that donations they had collected to help restore Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem had gone missing.
NGOs are worried that public trust will be affected by the envoy’s “generalization and the grave accusation reported in the media,” Hafidzi Mohammed Noor, chairman of MyCARE, told Arab News on Friday.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador on Thursday over his claim two days earlier that donations intended for restoration work on Al-Aqsa Mosque “have been unaccounted for.”
“According to the Palestinian ambassador, his statement was based on records by the management of the Al-Aqsa Mosque since 2018. However, he could not confirm whether the donations were specifically to be channeled to Al-Aqsa Mosque Wakaf Department, which is managed by the Jordanian government,” the ministry said in a statement after Thursday’s meeting.
The ministry also expressed its appreciation for Malaysian NGOs’ efforts to help Palestinians.

HIGHLIGHT

Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador on Thursday over his claim two days earlier.

“Malaysia will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Palestinian territories in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.
“We never channel our donations (directly) to Al-Aqsa Mosque because the mosque is under the stewardship of the Jordanian government, and it is well maintained by them,” said Faisal Aziz, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), which along with MyCARE was among the organizations that demanded that the envoy publicly apologize for his claim.
“All registered NGOs in Malaysia are monitored and have their financial reports audited,” Aziz told Arab News on Friday, adding that ABIM has been transparent with the money donated by Malaysian people.
All donations are transferred directly to local Palestinian NGOs, Aziz said.
A meeting between the Malaysian NGOs and the ministry is scheduled for next week.
The Palestinian ambassador was unavailable for comment when contacted by Arab News.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.