PAS mulls legal action over ‘khalwat’ report
December 09, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — PAS has denied four non-Muslims were caught for khalwat in Kelantan, saying that the state government is considering legal action against The Star for carrying the unsubstantiated report and creating fear among those outside the Islamic faith.
The Islamist party also said the MCA-owned paper is carrying such reports for its political masters as the general election is due next year.
PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali (left) bluntly described the report in The Star yesterday as “vile” and an “outright lie”, claiming that the paper was trying to serve the interests of its political masters.
“Without any proof or evidence, The Star has concocted a vile report, and I believe it provides strong ground for the Kelantan state government to consider legal action against the paper,” Mustafa told PAS news portal Harakah Daily.
He explained that khalwat is an offence “which comes under the purview of Islamic enforcement officers and which must go through the Syariah court before any punishment can be imposed”, saying that the report of fines being imposed on non-Muslims for khalwat shows the editors’ “ignorance” of the country’s laws.
The English-language daily reported that four non-Muslims — two men on a plane-spotting outing and a non-Muslim couple in Kelantan — were nabbed for “khalwat” (close proximity), a crime under Syariah law.
PAS has also said it does not condone bribery as was allegedly solicited by Kelantan enforcement officers, saying that those found guilty of corrupt practices should be punished.
PAS MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad described Kelantan MCA Youth chief Gan Han Chuan’s remarks yesterday that these were attempts to impose Islamic laws on non-Muslims as an “irresponsible accusation”.
“This is a first in history where non-Muslims have been issued summonses for khalwat,” Gan was reported as saying by The Star yesterday.
“That move is very rude and an attempt to confuse non-Muslims towards Islam,” Dzulkefly said.
“The summons was because of indecent behaviour and not because of khalwat, the question now is why MCA wants to link it with Islamic laws?” the Kuala Selangor MP asked.
His PAS colleague Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud shared his view, saying, “This is an attempt to instil fear into non-Muslims that Syariah laws will affect them.”
She explained that the offence of indecent behaviour is enforceable on all by the local councils, while khalwat is only enforceable on non-Muslims by the religious authorities.
“Indecent behaviour is enforceable by local council by-laws. Even Western countries have this rule. This is universal.
“Please check on all local council laws in Malaysia. All have this clause on indecent behaviour.
“Khalwat is a term used for Muslims and enforced by Jabatan Agama,” the Kota Raja MP told The Malaysian Insider yesterday in a text message, referring to the state religious affairs department.
“But don’t frighten the non-Muslims by using the term khalwat as this is a term used in the Syariah laws for Muslims. Don’t confuse public by using a term that is not applicable to them,” she said.
According to The Star, two of the four individuals who were fined had complained that enforcement officers had demanded RM500 from them “to settle the matter”.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (right) urged PAS yesterday to take urgent action on the errant enforcement officers to show that the Kelantan government it leads is not corrupt.
Dzulkefly said the issuing of such summonses is well within the powers of local authorities under the law, but said that it would be wrong for enforcement officers to ask for bribes.
“It is wrong when the enforcer takes advantage by asking for money.
“So to ensure justice for both sides, an investigation has to be carried out.
“If the enforcer is guilty, punishment must be carried out. And if the individual that was summoned is guilty, they also have to be punished,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted yesterday.
Recently, non-Muslim hairdressers in Kelantan were reported to have also been slapped with fines for having customers of the opposite gender, breaching a local council by-law that bars women hairstylists from working on men and vice versa — sparking a storm over the position of Islamic laws.
Malaysia practises a dual-track court system but Syariah laws can only be enforced on Muslims; non-Muslims are exempt.
As the 13th general election draws near, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has increasingly tried to scare non-Muslim voters from voting for PR by saying that PAS would implement the Islamic penal code, hudud, and create an Islamic state.