Kedah, Terengganu also considering public caning law

Published: 4:00 AM, July 17, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — The Kedah chapter of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has said it would consider listing in its general election manifesto public caning for Syariah offenders in the state, amid signs of growing religious conservatism in the country.

This is the second state in Peninsula Malaysia said to be considering such punishments, after the Kelantan state assembly last week passed a slew of amendments to the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002, which — among others — will now allow Syariah offenders to be publicly whipped.

The Terengganu government announced shortly afterwards that it was also mulling over a similar law.

Malay daily Berita Harian yesterday quoted Kedah PAS commissioner Ahmad Fakhruddin Syeikh Fakhrurazi as saying that the chapter would leave it to the Islamist party’s manifesto committee to decide if it was suitable as a manifesto for Kedah residents, ahead of the 14th general election that is expected to be called by this year.

“Currently, we are reviewing our manifesto before we announce it later ... it includes listing public caning, which was approved at the Kelantan state legislative assembly,” he said.

“We will leave it to the relevant committee to discuss it. Whatever it is, we will look at it carefully and discuss if it is suitable for the people of Kedah.”

Under the amendments to Kelantan’s enactment, offences such as consuming alcohol, sodomy, illicit sex, attempted illicit sex and qazaf (false accusations of illicit sex and sodomy) will be punishable with public canings of between 40 and 100 strokes.

The state is reported to be looking at holding the whippings at stadiums and fields.

Kelantan’s Deputy Chief Minister Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said last week that the move was part of the preparations to implement the proposed amendments to a federal law known as the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, aimed at enhancing the power of the Syariah courts.

However, some observers fear it will pave the way for an Islamic penal code, popularly known as hudud law, to be implemented in the state that is governed by PAS.

Islamic law is implemented in all Malaysian states but it is restricted to family issues such as divorce and inheritance, as well as Syariah crimes involving Muslims, such as consuming alcohol and adultery.

Criminal cases are handled by federal law.

While the Terengganu state government has indicated that it would pass a similar Bill, Chief Minister Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman had said that it would only be implemented if all parties, including ruling Barisan Nasional component parties representing other races and other religions in the state, agreed with the implementation of the law. AGENCIES