Why leaders not condemning khalwat proposal

April 4th, 2008 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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Its true that at times we do things that backfire..sort of spit onto your own face. As Islamophobia gains prominence due to actions of some “terrorists” in far-off countries, our fellow countrymen also want to join the fun. They want to be in the papers, so why not do some attention-grabbing noise…err..like charge non muslims for khalwat!

Never mind that some poor fellow won’t even know what is khalwat. Just grab him and put him in jail if can, that’s the plan. The criminal does not need to know what crime he/she had committed.

Never mind that it is against the law and constitution. These guys think they can do anything they like.

The MCCBCHST, Federation of Taoist Association, Aliran, Suaram and Bar Council already start to make noise. The public also start to become angry now.

What about the sole champion of the Indian community? What about MCA who said will “assert” and be more vocal? Well, now’s your God given chance. Open the mouth and talk. Gerakan, PPP, PBS? nothing to say? The new Pakatan Rakyat too busy to reply to this issue? So many non-muslim MPs…but no noise? Don’t be slow and react after the people have spoken. You may not like their response.

‘Punishing non-Muslims for khalwat against Constitution’


PETALING JAYA: It is unconstitutional to punish non-Muslims for committing khalwat (close proximity) as there is no provision in law for it.

Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said yesterday that Article 121(A) of the Constitution allowed for separation between the Civil and Syariah courts.

Khalwat is not recognised (as an offence) under civil law. “It is not wrong for non-Muslims. Syariah law is only applicable to Muslims,” he said yesterday.

He was commenting on a proposal made during a seminar on Syariah Law review for non-Muslims who commit khalwat with Muslims to also be held liable. Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Asri Abdullah said the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims be likewise sentenced, but in the civil courts.

Vaithilingam also said this was tantamount to depriving non-Muslims of their rights.

Federation of Taoist Associations Malaysia president Tan Bon Sin said in a statement it vehemently objected to the proposal, as it was an affront to the Taoist community’s way of life. “It is an implied way of imposing Syariah law on the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia,” he said.

Malaysian Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said in a statement that the proposal is tantamount to imposing Islamic law on non-Muslims. She said it was wrong in principle and would be an infringement of the “fundamental guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution”. “The proposal is wholly unacceptable.”

She said other proposals made during the seminar which purportedly included the imposition of stiffer penalties, and the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for Muslims convicted of various offences related to “moral and faith” were equally troubling, especially in light of the history of overzealous enforcement of khalwat and other moral policing laws in Malaysia.

“We urge the authorities to focus their attention on more pressing issues like fighting corruption rather than on the private lives of individuals,” she added.

In a statement, Sisters In Islam reiterated their objection to the current practice of moral policing by the state as it contravenes Quranic injunction laid out in various verses. “The practice of barging into people’s houses and bedrooms in particular clearly violates an individual’s right to privacy and human dignity protected by the Quran. “Such a practice is also not the norm in many Muslim countries,” the statement said.

Sisters In Islam called on the religious authorities to focus their resources on chasing after errant fathers who did not pay maintenance to their children and ex-wives. “With the on-going debates on this issue among Muslims still unresolved, how then can it be extended to non-Muslims?” the statement added.

Focus on corruption, not khalwat
Azreen Madzlan | Apr 3, 08 6:47pm

Civil society groups today asked the government to focus on fighting the crime of corruption instead of criminalizing moral issues. The Star and New Straits Times reported today that two Islamic bodies want non-Muslims found committing khalwat (close proximity) with Muslims to be held liable in civil courts.

Contacted by Malaysiakini today, Bar Council vice-president K Ragunath said it does not matter which court is utilised to sentence non-Muslims committing khalwat because it is clearly stated in the Federal Constitution that Malaysia is a secular country and Syariah law is not applicable to non-Muslims. He said besides coming up with a new legislation, the government should also work on education and awareness programmes if the government sees khalwat as a major problem among non-Muslims.

The government, Ragunath said, should focus on more important issues such as fighting corruption which is also a fundamental of the religion. “Why are we focusing on punishment and embarrassing others only? We should focus on the greater understanding of the religion among the public and to make Islam more friendly to non-Muslims.” he said.

Meanwhile, Aliran president P Ramakrishnan said that personal conduct and moral issues should not be criminalized. A paragon of virtue, he said, will do well to direct attention towards universal values that are common to all traditions, adding that the government should focus on fighting crimes and not obsessed with narrow contentious issues.

Focus on national unity

“Corruption is a heinous crime that can damage the nation and deny countless people of welfare assistance from the state. So, what are they going to say regarding that?” he asked.

Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng said, it is unfair and unjustified for non-Muslims to be charged with such a laws as close proximity with a Muslim. “I think for a country like Malaysia, we should be promoting more interaction and integration among the races for national unity. This kind of proposal is not helping at all,” he stressed. Yap said it was also a violation of the rights of non-Muslims to have to face a law on a faith other than their own.

In Malaysia, a khalwat offence is deemed to be committed when a man and a woman, either one of them is Muslim, and are not family members, are caught in close proximity even in public places.

In 2003, Kuala Lumpur City Hall fined a Chinese couple found hugging and kissing in a park. The incident has raised concerns among the non-Muslims about their rights.

At the moment, there is no jurisdiction to sentence non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims and this requires legislative amendments.


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