G25: Khalwat raids embarrassing Malaysia’s justice system

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim speaking on legalising political funding at The Royal Lake Club. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim speaking on legalising political funding at The Royal Lake Club. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — G25 questioned today the criminalisation of “khalwat” (close proximity) in Malaysia after a police officer was killed and another injured following two separate khalwat raids.

The group comprising Malay retired senior civil servants pointed out that Malays who have visited or lived in the Gulf states said they have not come across khalwat raids in hotels or homes in any Arab country.

“These cases of accidental deaths and injuries should raise public concern whether such an offence like khalwat (close proximity) should continue to be criminalised considering that its implementation under Shariah law has often brought embarrassment to the country’s system of justice,” G25 spokesman Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said in a statement.

“Our authorities should learn from the failed experience of dictatorial regimes which criminalised personal thoughts and behaviour to discourage individualism and promote mass obedience to the state ideology.

“All their laws and political indoctrinations failed to save the regimes from collapsing when their people decided to rise against the dictatorships,” he added.

A police officer reportedly died earlier this month when he tried to escape a vice raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) at the fourth floor of an apartment, while another policeman became critically injured when he jumped from a building to flee a separate Jais raid.

Mohd Sheriff pointed out that Saudi Arabia has issued stern guidelines to limit the powers of the moral police, who are now prohibited from taking the law into their own hands but should instead “advise” those who commit offences under morality laws to “change and repent”.

“The problem about state policing of moral values is that it tends to raise questions about the priority in the ranking of social ills,” he said.

“It is also a very difficult law to enforce with fairness because it usually falls on the poorer citizens, while the rich and powerful get away with bigger sins, especially when they have strong political connections or can afford to keep their mistresses in posh apartments.

“It’s a law which can be easily exploited to spy and report on your nasty neighbour or your stingy friend in order to get even with him or her,” Mohd Sheriff added.

The conduct and lawfulness of Jais’ raids against the offence of khalwat, or close proximity between unmarried couples, is currently under the spotlight following several dubious break-ins and arrests in the past few years.

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