We must not allow citizens’ moral and civil rights to be trespassed by overzealous officers
Last Saturday, The Star has reported that Kelantan enforcement officers had fined two non-Muslim couples for khalwat, a crime under syariah law, but PAS had quickly pointed out the summonses were for indecent behaviour, an offence under local council laws.
It is obvious that The Star has misreported the issue.
Nevertheless, such action by the Kelantan enforcement officers is not acceptable though it is not the first case to happen in the country.
On June 5 , 2003 , I had held a press conference to condemn the Ipoh City Hall enforcement team’s unacceptable action of issuing summons under Rule 8 of the Parks ( Ipoh Municipal By Law ) 1985.
The bylaw sets out as follows: 8(1) any person found in behaving in disorderly manner in any park commits an offence. (2) Any person committing any act in contravention of any of the provisions of these bye-laws may be ordered out of any park by the President or any officer authorized in writing by him or a police officer and may be refused admission subsequently. (3) Any person refusing to obey such order under Paragraph (2) may, with reasonable force be removed from such park
Parts of my press conference statement were as follows:-
“On 27th May 03, during a media conference at the DAP office we made available 2 victims of the byelaws to the media. One victim was Lai Kar Leong while holding hands with his girl friend was issued a summons for being in Ipoh Padang at 10.30 pm. The other victim was one Ramesh was issued a summons while he was talking to a girl in the Ipoh Tun Abdul Razak library. Library is not a park within the meaning of the byelaw!
We have here today one Sukdave Singh who was also issued a summons under the above byelaw while he was walking with his girlfriend at the Polo grounds, Ipoh on 17/11/02 at 4.46pm. Polo Ground is a very popular jogging and recreational area where many Ipoh folks go in the evening. In fact many family functions are held at this place.
The City Hall officers have decided that holding hand in public with the opposite gender is an offence within the meaning of the byelaw. When Sukdave went to complain to the City office on the wrong issuance of this summons the City hall reduced the compound to be paid from RM100 to RM70. To date Suhdave has not paid the compound and he has decided to fight it out in court.
In all the above cases the DAP will provide legal assistance and represent them in court. We urge the Menteri Besar to order the DBI to cancel all the summons issued to date.
In the last few months the enforcements officers of the DBI under the above bye-laws have issued more than 170 summons for the year 2003. ”
Following DAP’s disclosure of abuse of power and discretion by the enforcement officers, the Perak Menteri Besar had issued a directive to the City Hall to cease enforcement of the bylaw.
Recent actions by Kelantan Enforcement officers clearly shows that there is an urgent need for such by laws to be repealed or at least amended to avoid misinterpretation and abuse of the power by overzealous officers, irrespective whether such laws exist in Pakatan Rakyat or BN government run states.
We must not allow citizens’ moral and civil rights to be trespassed by overzealous officers.