Following the passing of a syariah bill that would allow public caning in Kelantan, former information minister Zainuddin Maidin chided that Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz now has a new ‘tourist attraction’ to promote abroad.
He said although such punishments are also carried out in Brunei and Saudi Arabia, Malaysia is unique in the sense that the country is a democratic country, whereas Brunei and Saudi Arabia are absolute monarchies.
“This can become a new Malaysian tourism product for Nazri to sell overseas so that non-Muslims, particularly those from developed nations, can see ancient and barbaric punishments being carried out in the democratic and modern Malaysia […]
“Non-Muslim tourists who could not witness it in the ‘forbidden land’ of Saudi Arabia would surely flock to Malaysia because there are no obstacles here.
“This move can also be promoted by Nazri amongst Arab nations as a step towards repairing Saudi Arabia’s image of using uncivilised punishments. Surely Saudi Arabia would raise Malaysia’s pilgrimage quota after this,” he said in a blog post today.
He said Nazri would surely be delighted when the new law comes into force.
In June last year, Nazri had said that Kelantan is in need of harsher syariah laws as there are more syariah crimes being committed there, and that the Muslims in the state are not afraid of existing punishments.
For the record, the Indonesian province of Acheh also uses public caning as a means of punishing certain Syariah offences. The country adopts a democratic republic system.
Yesterday, Bernama reported that the Kelantan state legislative assembly has unanimously passed the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 (Amendment 2017).
TARNISHES BN’S IMAGE
Taking on a more serious note, Zainuddin said the move would tarnish BN’s image, even though it would only be implemented in the PAS-led state of Kelantan.
He claimed that this is because BN is in cahoots with PAS to implement the law.
“The world would surely be asking how a dogmatic, backwater and poor state can pressure a central government led by learned people,” he said.
He added that the new law’s implementation would also be a betrayal to the foundation set by past Umno leaders such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein, and Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, who had strived to build Malaysia as a tolerant Islamic country that is harmonious, liberal, modern, democratic, and on-par with developed nations around the world.