Friday, February 19, 2010

DPM: Try to understand

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said religious authorities should play their role in educating the public and enhancing understanding on the whipping sentence, which was meted out on three women on Feb 9.

He said it was important that the society as well as the international community understand the issue so as not to create wrong impressions on the country.


"The important thing now is for state Islamic religious departments, perhaps with cooperation from federal agencies, to help enhance understanding about the sentence," he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Human Capital here today.

He said that state governments had been carrying out the Syariah law and that the enforcement was under state jurisdictions.

Muhyiddin was asked to comment on the reactions within and outside the country, with some expressing outcry, on the caning sentence meted out on the three women for committing illicit sex.

The three women, aged 18 and in their 20s, were caned at the Kajang Women's Prison for engaging in illicit sex and each had delivered a child out of wedlock.

They are the first women to receive such punishment under the Syariah law.

The three, who surrendered to the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi), said they accepted the punishment and repented.

International community

Muhyiddin said the Syariah Court was empowered to punish Muslims who committed offences under the Syariah law.

"Based on this, the punishment is legitimate and in accordance with the law," he said.

Muhyiddin said the international community might have miscontrued the punishment to be similar to that of a corporal punishment or severe whipping.

He added that in Islam, the approach was more towards educating the offenders and to make them repent.

"It's not the same (as corporal punishment). It far lighter," he said.

Meanwhiile, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said every punishment meted out to Muslim women "must be fair and just".

“While no Muslim can deny the wisdom behind syariah jurisprudence, the issue of the implementation of syariah clearly lacks input from Muslim women who are stakeholders in Islamic jurisprudence,” said Shahrizat.

The minister added she would ensure that the recently-established Secretariat of Advocacy and Empowerment of Muslim Women worked together with relevant government agencies, to oversee such cases in order to avoid any potential confusion or misunderstanding regarding the sanctity of Islamic laws and the rehabilitative effects these punishments have.

Religious counselling

In Genting Highlands, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said the three women were given religious counselling before and after they were sentenced under Section 23(2) of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Offences Act 1997 (Illicit Sex) after they were found guilty of engaging in illicit sex.

In Petaling Jaya, Malaysian Syarie Lawyers Association president Mohamad Isa Abd Ralip said via a statement the association fully supported the caning.

On the sentence against Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, who pleaded guilty to drinking beer in public, he said the whipping should be speeded up.

The Association of Muslim Lawyers president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the Syariah caning was like “a father or teacher caning a child who had done wrong.”

However, All Women’s Action Society president Sofia Lim Siu Ching said the Home Ministry needed to explain why the punishment was carried out in secret.

“The expediency and the secrecy reeks of bad faith and betrays a troubling disregard for public opinion.”

Sisters in Islam executive director Dr Hamidah Marican said the three cases constituted further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia.

Bar Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan urged the government to abolish whipping and comply with international norms and principles on it.

news courtesy of Bernama

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