Lawyers: No need for Chetz Yusof to comply with Jakim summons

File photo of Chetz with her dogs taken off her Facebook page.
File photo of Chetz with her dogs taken off her Facebook page.

PETALING JAYA, Aug 6 — Dog trainer Maznah Yusof will not comply with any order to meet with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), her lawyers said today, insisting the authority does not have any legal right to question her over the controversial dog video.

In a statement, lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya accused the religious authority of showing deliberate “bias and hostility” towards Maznah or “Chetz Yusof” for allegedly acting beyond its jurisdiction by attempting to haul her up for questioning.

“We state here that Chetz Yusof will not comply with any order to attend before the Jakim authorities,” the duo said.

“We further state that any order by Jakim compelling Chetz to attend will be unlawful and unconstitutional.

“We call upon Jakim to immediately stop issuing statements prejudicial to our client’s legal defence,” they added.

Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha reportedly confirmed yesterday that his department had set the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on Maznah, saying action against her online video would be a “lesson to society not to repeat such acts”.

News portal The Malaysian Insider also reported that the department would soon haul up the dog trainer for questioning.

“The content of the clip is blasphemous as it involves matters of worship related to heavy impurities (mughallazah),” Othman was quoted as saying, in reference to the controversial Aidilfitri video featuring Maznah and her dogs.

“The celebration of Hari Raya is also a form of worship but the clip does not portray that.

“What she did was wrong as it was done on purpose. Moreover, it was recorded for public viewing,” he was quoted saying again.

On Tuesday, a 105-second video reposted on YouTube showed Maznah walking and bathing her three dogs as the “Takbir Raya”, or Muslim call to prayer traditionally reserved for the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, plays in the background.

The juxtaposition appeared to be a reference to the wudhu, or ablution performed by Muslims before prayer; dogs are also considered ritually unclean by adherents of the predominant faith in Malaysia.

Three days later, Jakim adjudged the video to be an insult to Islam and resulted in the MCMC pursuing investigations against her.

Weighing in on Jakim’s actions so far in the controversy, lawyers Latheefa and Surendran insisted that the authority had not acted fairly against Maznah from the beginning.

They noted that although Maznah was already under police probe, the department had continued to issue statements that they claimed were “highly prejudicial” to the dog trainer’s legal defence.

“Jakim further usurped judicial functions and pronounced that the video insults Islam, without giving Chetz the opportunity to defend herself.

“To condemn a person without affording her an opportunity to be heard is against the norms of every civilised system of justice,” they said.

Latheefa and Surendran added that Othman’s latest remarks showed even greater proof of the department’s bias towards Maznah.

“Jakim is an administrative body with no powers of compulsion against any citizen. It is surprising that the Jakim D-G does not seem to understand the duties and powers of Jakim,” they said.

Following the uproar over the 2010 video, Maznah was arrested and subsequently released from remand in Johor on Friday on a court bond.

The 38-year-old dog trainer is being investigated under the Sedition Act and section 298A of the Penal Code that includes offences of causing disunity on religious grounds.

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