PAS veep: Why call Shariah caning cruel? Civil caning is worse

Ida Lim
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad speaks during a media event in Shah Alam August 19, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — Caning on those convicted under the civil laws is far worse than the Shariah caning recently of two women in Terengganu, PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad has said.

Idris was defending the Shariah canings which critics have labelled as cruel.

“If they want to say that this caning is cruel, why is it they never dispute civil caning. Everyone knows the way caning is done under civil laws is more cruel, to the extent the offender cannot urinate and walk,” he was quoted telling local daily Sinar Harian.

“The caning that was carried out in Terengganu clearly was completed in less than two minutes. Didn't hear the raungan (wailing) of the offenders at all,” he claimed.

He said the Shariah courts' jurisdiction was based on the laws and should be respected, adding that the decision to cane was not revolutionary or beyond the law as every state would have its legal adviser.

On August 12, the Terengganu’s Shariah court sentenced the two women to a fine of RM3,300 and six strokes of the cane each, after they pleaded guilty to the offence of attempted same-sex sexual relations under Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001 read together with the enactment's Section 59(1).

The sentence was carried out on the two women, aged 22 and 32, on Monday in front of a Shariah judge and around 100 people ― including public onlookers, government agencies’ representatives, and members of non-governmental organisations.

In a separate report by local daily Utusan Malaysia, the Association of Malaysian Shariah Officers president Ibrahim Deris defended the Terengganu canings as having been done according to the laws.

He noted that the duo in Terengganu did not file any appeals during a 14-day period after sentencing and that no parties with interest had filed for review of the Shariah judge's decision.

He said the caning was done behind closed-doors, adding that those who were allowed in to witness the caning were pre-screened and inspected to ensure that there would be no privacy breach on both those being caned and those carrying out the sentence.

He said the witnesses of the caning were also not allowed to bring in recording equipment.

He also said the Shariah High Court in Terengganu was not the first state to conduct caning outside of the prisons, as the Shariah High Court in Tawau, Sabah had in 2014 and 2015 carried out such caning in the courts' hearing hall.

Utusan Malaysia also reported Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria as responding to criticism of injustice over the Shariah canings of the two Terengganu women, where he said: “The punishment that was carried out is an Islamic punishment, Allah's punishment. It can't be that God is not just? Are humans more just?”

“If we are Muslims, we should carry out Islamic punishments. If we disagree, it means we oppose Islam,” he said when asked if such Islamic punishments should be carried out.

He also said the caning was not intended to kill but merely to educate, adding among other things: “The punishment should be done in front of the public as a lesson, an education to the public so they are afraid to repeat the same offence.”

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