LAST_UPDATEThu, 21 Jun 2018 4pm

Does The Change Of Weekend Days In Johor Benefit Muslims Only?

Sultan Ibrahim decreed the change in weekend days     /Google ImagesSultan Ibrahim decreed the change in weekend days /Google ImagesPEOPLE always look forward for weekends where they can have some R&R with their families and friends.
Anyone mentions 'weekend' and immediately Saturday and Sunday pops into mind. But here in Malaysia, the definition of weekend isn't the same to people in all states, especially to Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.
For the three states, Friday and Saturday have always been designated as a weekend. 
And now, a fourth state joins the list because the people of Johor will get up for work on a Sunday morning next year.
Let's face it: nobody likes to go to work. Especially on a Sunday.
Understandably, the announcement received mixed reactions from everybody, particularly to the people of Johor. Some accepted it in good nature while others clearly frustrated to the sudden change.
Little do people know this isn't the first time Johor designate Fridays and Saturdays as their weekend. Prior to 1994, the people of Johor already observed Fridays and Saturdays as a weekend.  
So why did the state return to its previous weekend days?
According to historical records, during pre-independence (Merdeka), a majority of states in Malaysia observed Saturdays and Sundays as a weekend, because the calendar days was introduced by the colonial British for the Federated Malay States and the Straits Settlements.
However, the five Non-Federated Malay States - Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu , Kelantan and Johor - were not required to follow the practice and they chose to keep Fridays and Saturdays as their off days.
Johor was the first among the five states to make the change. In November 1993, the then Johor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the switch of weekend days to begin on Jan 1 the following year.
Muhyiddin's Perlis counterpart, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Pawanteh, followed suit a month later after the announcement.
So for the two states - Johor and Perlis - 1994 marks the beginning of the Saturday-Sunday weekend.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then Prime Minister, said, it was not against Islamic teachings to work on a Friday, as Muslims were given extra time during lunch break to enable them to perform Friday prayers.
Mahathir was quoted saying; "It is easier to perform Friday prayers as a congregation and return to work afterwards. We have seen some Muslims who used the rest day (then Friday) to take their families out and miss Friday prayers."
Why a Friday-Saturday weekend?
It is the sixth day in the Islamic calendar, and the literal meaning of Friday is congregation (Jummah), hence the Jummah prayer on Friday noon.
The royal decree was issued in respect of Friday being the head of days in a week and in accordance to Johor being among the first few states that recognise Islam as the official religion.
"We have seen men juggling time and rushing to go to the mosque on Fridays for Jummah prayers. During Friday sermons, they use it to rest and take naps, and rush back to their workplace.
"We all know that there are some states that still have Friday-Saturday as their weekends, and even Johor once practiced this. Therefore, after much consideration, I decided to revert Johor's weekly holiday on those two days, " said Sultan Ibrahim on his 55th birthday reception at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Muar. (sourced from Astro Awani)
Does the change have any impact on the state?
Many feel that the change will have indirect effects.
Channel News Asia, a media from Singapore, reported that the decision will make Johor lose its appeal as an investment because the change of weekend days is untimely considering the increase in business and economy between Johor and the republic.
Citing a statement by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Khaled Nordin as saying that he believes the change of weekends from Saturday-Sunday to Friday-Saturday in the state will not have any significant impact on the economy.
"I think, with the technology boom nowadays, any change will not have a significant impact on the state economy."
"After all, Johor had previously practiced the weekend on Friday-Saturday before 1994," he told Bernama at Sultan Ibrahim's birthday reception in Muar.
He also added that private sectors are allowed to choose whether to follow the new weekend schedule or not.
"It is up to them to do the same as the state government," he said.
Meanwhile, in a report from mStar Online, the Johor Islamic Council advisor (MAINJ) Datuk Nooh Gadut said, the change of weekend on Friday -Saturday is to enable Muslims to perform prayers calmly.
Besides, the Public Relations Manager of Legoland Malaysia, Deviga Doreraja said, it is still early to anticipate to what will happen to the number of visitors to Legoland.
"We welcome the new change, but it's still early for us to predict whether it will have any effect to the number of tourists."
"We operate 7-days a week. After all, the packages offered does not include weekends, so there is no change in the rate of price change if the weekend will be as said (Friday and Saturday), " he said when contacted by Malaysian Digest yesterday.
He added that he believed that the business will continue as normal and the effect of the decision may be viewed at least one month after the commencement day of the week changes, especially to the tourists there.
The reactions from the people in Johor were mostly positive as stated in many of the Facebook status postings.
They clearly welcomed the Sultan's decision and think it was a good turning point for Johor.
Gynaecologist Dr Hamid Arsyat facebook page said, as a son of Johor, he thinks this move is very appropriate.Pic:Account Facebook, Johor Darul TakzimPic:Account Facebook, Johor Darul Takzim
He also says that, as a working day, Friday is less effective and the change in weekly off days to Friday-Saturday is an advantage for Muslims.
Facebook account holder Zam Matt commented, "Long live the King, Johor Muslims near and far support this 200 percent."
Other than Malaysia, other countries that practice Friday-Saturday as weekly off days are Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen and Kuwait.
Oman was the last of these countries to observe the practice, switching its weekend days only on May 1 this year.
In the end, a weekend is a weekend by any other day.