KUCHING – The amendments to the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 passed by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday should be seen in the context of it being applicable only to Muslims in that state.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the amended enactment only has implications on Muslims in Kelantan and does not involve non-Muslims.
“I have not received details on the tabling of the bill and the amendments but I feel what they have done should be seen in the context of this law being only for Muslims in Kelantan,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also home minister, said the Kelantan government has the right to table the enactment amendment bill at the state assembly as it has the majority voice.
“However, although the amendments have been passed, these still require the consent of the Kelantan Sultan for implementation.”
He said this today when asked to comment on the amended enactment which, among others, provides for caning in public for offences such as committing illicit sex, sodomy and consumption of alcohol.
The amendment bill also allows religious enforcement officers to handcuff suspects, besides the use of video recordings as evidence in syariah court hearings.
The bill was tabled by state Islamic Development and Propagation, Information and Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Nassuruddin Daud.
In Petaling Jaya, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the move will not affect the country’s tourism industry.
Stating that Kelantan is considered the least attractive state for tourism, Mohamed Nazri said the latest move will only result in tourists shunning the state.
“(Overall) tourism will not be affected because there are more attractive states (to visit). Kelantan is one of the least visited states (in terms of tourism) in the country.
“If they (Kelantan government) want to make it less attractive, it is their problem,” he told theSuntoday.
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Nazri said tourists will continue to visit the country despite news of Kelantan’s public caning law, which could portray Malaysia as becoming more Islamised and conservative.
MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said any law passed by the Kelantan state assembly is subject to the test of legality and constitutionality.
He said whipping can only be done in accordance with the federal laws and in this instance the Criminal Procedure Code is applicable.
“It is unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution whereby this enactment will be against Article 38 and the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
“The state cannot impose a punishment not permitted or in contravention of laws passed by Parliament,” he said in a statement.
He urged PAS to quote the authority and under which law of Parliament that allows them to whip offenders in public.
Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam (SIS) has urged the federal government to step in and demand that the Kelantan government repeal the amendment that would allow public caning.
“The federal government must act or it will be irresponsible in neglecting this issue as one which threatens the nation’s values and aspirations,” it said in a statement today.