Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Were the three women really caned?

With reference to your article entitled “Islamic or not, caning women is just not right” (March 17). You have assumed that three Muslim women had been caned as announced by the Home Minister. A useful assumption for everyone to believe as something that actually happened.

Surely it enhances Umno's Islamic credentials as a political party that would walk further in upholding Islamic teachings. PAS has so far got nothing close to hudud law to show for all the talk about introducing hudud for almost two decades now.

My contention is that no such caning happened. There were just too many coincidences to simply take the home minister's word for it.

When you look at the timing of the announcement, you would have to ask if it was coincidental or intentional.

At the time of the announcement, it had already been announced that Kartika Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was to meet the Raja Muda of Pahang, who was to meet her on behalf of the Sultan, the head of Islam for that state.

We got to go back to the time when Kartika was picked up in a van and driven to the prison where she was to be caned. But the trip was stopped half way and she was returned to her home.

Question: Who put a stop to it? Obviously picking her up and taking her to be caned would have been done on the command of underlings and bureaucrats. Someone higher up had to put a stop to the caning then.

Of course, everyone wanted her to appeal the sentence, which she did not. So why was the caning stopped? Of course, it was announced that the caning was postponed.

Then we hear of the impending meeting in early March between Kartika and the Raja Muda. Strangely after that news, but towards the end of February, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that three women were caned for illicit sex.

What is strange is that the caning took place a week earlier. Even stranger, the three women were supposed to have been found guilty and sentenced by the Federal Territories religious authorities.

Am I right to say that the FT religious authorities would not have royal oversight over them? So that the royalty would not only have no say over the caning, but it will also be as uncertain as the rest of us as to whether any caning happened at all.

So why was such an announcement made?

I am guessing but it would seem that the Kartika episode has had the intervention of royalty and there is a battle going on between Umno and the royal household. I would suggest that the royal household is not exactly in favour of reigning over an Islamic state that caned women. At the same time, it was also not to be seen as interfereing in the management of Islamic affairs of the state.

Kartika's visit to the Raja Muda should have been a tame affair, with the sultan announcing the pardon. But the earlier announcement of the caning (of the three women) provided a precedent for the sultan not to pardon Kartika. Umno was certainly laying it down for the sultan to act in a certain way.

Funnily, though, as we were all under the impression that the pardon would only be forthcoming following an appeal by Kartika, the Raja Muda, instead, stated that even if Kartika did not appeal the sultan could still pardon her. It looks like she still did not appeal. And we now wait for the sultan to make his final decision.

I get this feeling that when these laws were passed, the sultans may have not expected that there will come a day when a caning would actually happen. The script might have called for the guilty to appeal. As a matter of procedure, the syariah judges and officials would then be able to show their benevolence and humanity by granting the appellant a pardon.

When Kartika failed to appeal, she put the spanner into the works and the script failed to function. Obviously, if the sultans do not wish to see caning of women happen or the application of hudud laws apply in their states, they will have to take a re-look at the carte blanche that they had given the religious authorities before.

There are now doubts in our minds !!!!

courtesy of FreeMalaysiaToday

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