PETALING JAYA: After courting flak over a viral video on social media, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri has explained that his trip to Saudi Arabia was fully sponsored by the Muslim World League.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday (April 13), Zulkifli also refuted allegations that he sat on a private jet, saying that he took the commercial flight by Saudi Airlines.
"God-willing, many have asked me before making any assumptions. I pray that the current Ramadan will be able to educate our souls in the direction that is blessed by Him.
"The flight from Riyadh to Madinah, as shown in the video, was fully managed by the Muslim World League, following a royal invitation by the Medina Governor Prince Faisal Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud to meet with his Highness in Medina."
Zulkifli also said the fully sponsored trip was a sign of respect by the Saudi Arabia Royalty and government and the Muslim World League.
"I would like to state here that every programme and important meetings concerning haji, umrah and Islamic affairs during my trip in Saudi Arabia was arranged and fully sponsored by the Muslim World League.
"I see this as a sign of respect by the Royalty, the Saudi Arabia government and the Muslim World League towards Malaysia," he said.
"Therefore, the accusations that I misused public funds to board a luxurious plane there, isn't true," he added.
At the same time, Zulkifli said he forgave those who made false accusations against him in conjunction with the Ramadan month.
"Honestly, I have always prayed for goodness to Malaysians and also the Muslims in the country," he said.
Zulkifli also said the RM14mil Ramadhan Prihatin package that is distributed by agencies under his ministry will be constantly monitored by him, even if he is not in Malaysia.
"May we have a more meaningful Ramadan this time, especially to those who really need it," he added.
Recently, a video depicting Zulkifli and an entourage onboard allegedly a private jet has made rounds on social media, triggering backlash from the public.
However, another video tweeted by Bernama showed Zulkifli boarding an Airbus A319.
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, in a sarcastic tweet, said it is fun to be a minister under the Perikatan Nasional government.
He also said that during his tenure as minister, he boarded a commercial flight from Jeddah to Riyadh in his official trip to meet with the Saudi Arabia minister in charge of haj and umrah pilgrimages.
"There are no big entourages. Just the Tabung Haji chairman and two of my officers. Congratulations, ministers today are given 'sponsored amenities'," he added.
Zulkifli had arrived in Riyadh on April 10 and his working visit will cover bilateral talks on haj and umrah pilgrimages, and also meetings on regional and international matters on Islamic affairs.