Archive for April 4th, 2008

Suggestions for more suitable term than Pakatan Rakyat are most welcome

Many suggestions have been made for a more suitable term than Pakatan Rakyat for the proposed co-operation of KeADILan, DAP and PAS as a follow-up to the March 8, 2008 general election results for the common objective to promote justice, freedom, democracy, integrity and good governance in Malaysia.

When the term Pakatan Rakyat was tentatively chosen, the consensus was to avoid the use of the term “Barisan”.

The term Pakatan Rakyat is subject to the confirmation by the respective leadership of the three parties. Suggestions for a more suitable term than Pakatan Rakyat are most welcome.

Statements issued in the past three days have raised the question whether all the three parties have fully learnt the lessons of the 2001 crisis of the Barisan Alternative, where the DAP had to leave the opposition coalition because of PAS’ insistence to pursue the Islamic State objective, which was not in the common Barisan Alternative manifesto. Read the rest of this entry »


So Is Islam Hadari To Be Enforced By Whipping Now?

By Farish A. Noor

I am having a tough time writing this particular article as I am absolutely consumed by anger at the moment. In fact, I am livid as I have never been for such a long time.

The reason for this sudden rise in my blood pressure level is that after a two-day seminar organised by the Institute for Islamic Understanding (IKIM) and the Shariah Judiciary Department of Malaysia, it was suggested by some of those who took part that ‘non-Muslims found committing khalwat (close proximity) with Muslims (will) also be held liable’ and that they too will be under threat of punishment. (The Star, Proposal to Persecute Non-Muslims for Khalwat, 3 April 2008) According to the report ‘Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Asri Abdullah said the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly, but in the civil courts.’

Furthermore the participants of the seminar also proposed ‘to impose heftier penalties – of up to four times the current penalties –on Muslims caught for khalwat, prostitution, consuming alcohol and involvement in gambling activities.’

And what might these heftier penalties be? According to the same report ‘Ikim and the department were proposing that the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Amendment) 1984 be amended to impose stiffer penalties of RM1,000 fine, or five years’ jail or 12 strokes of the rotan for Syariah Lower Courts and RM20,000 fine, or 10years’ jail or 24 strokes of rotan for Syariah High Courts’. It then added that ‘there was also a proposal for Syariah judges to enforce whipping for these offences’ and that ‘another proposal calls for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for those convicted of offences related to morals and faith such as prostitution and effeminate men, and enforcement of Section 54 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Act 559) to set up such centres’.

So this, apparently, is what the great minds of IKIM and the religious departments have been cooking up and intending to serve to us, the Malaysian public, all along. While Muslims are angry about the portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the film ‘Fitna’ by the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, one is left with the question: As long as Muslim leaders and intellectuals remain stuck in their morass of outdated conservative thinking, would it not remain the case that Islam is seen as a religious of violence? How, pray tell, can scholars like me defend the image of Islam and Muslims when Muslim governments like ours allows such outlandish and dangerous ideas to spread, and harbour such proponents of conservative-fundamentalist Islam in the very same institutions that were meant to open up the minds of Muslims and lead us – and Malaysian society – to a more modern, progressive and liberated understanding of Islam and religion in general? Read the rest of this entry »