G25: Is it legal for PDRM to be moral police?

G25 expressed concern today that the police’s already limited resources were being diverted from combatting crime. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
G25 expressed concern today that the police’s already limited resources were being diverted from combatting crime. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — A pro-moderation lobby group questioned today if the police are contravening the Police Act 1967 by collaborating with the Selangor religious authorities to act on Shariah offences.

The so-called G25 comprising retired high-ranking civil servants, which includes former judges, cited Article 3(3) of the Act that states the functions of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) as maintaining law and order, preserving peace and security, preventing crime, apprehending and investigating offenders, and collecting security intelligence.

“Moral policing does not appear to have been included in the list of duties of the PDRM under the Police Act.

“It is pertinent to question, therefore, whether enforcement of Shariah offences by the PDRM is authorised under the Police Act,” G25 said in a statement.

Bukit Aman’s police management department director Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah told Malay Mail Online recently that the police were not exceeding their jurisdiction in its one-year trial project with the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), where two officers and a sergeant were seconded to the religious authority’s office starting yesterday to help enforce Shariah laws.

On Thursday, national newswire Bernama reported Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general (Jakim) Datuk Othman Mustapha as saying the move was necessary to counter purported threats to Islam such as Shiah and deviant teachings, conflicts over Shariah law, social ills and the question of rights to freedom which he claimed to have become increasingly complex.

G25 also expressed concern today that the police’s already limited resources were being diverted from combatting crime, noting the high rates of burglaries and theft that have resulted in private security being engaged in residential areas.

“Protecting the safety of the Malaysian public is more important than harassing individuals for personal sins. Moral policing does not improve the quality of living in Malaysian cities. Reducing the crime rate does,” said G25.

The group also pointed out that Saudi Arabia has reportedly moved to curb its religious police.

“It is high time that Malaysia does the same,” said G25.

US newspaper the New York Times reported last month the Saudi government’s announcement that its religious police can only work during office hours and that they do not have the right to arrest people. Instead, they are to report Islamic law violations to the civil police.

G25 expressed fears that Putrajaya would be seen as using police power to enforce the Islamisation of the country.

“The fear is that the police are being taken over by the religious establishment to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state,” it said.

G25 has previously criticised khalwat (close proximity) raids by the religious authorities, who sometimes carry out such raids at hotel rooms late at night.

The Federal Territories religious police were recently criticised over their raid on a private dinner function by the transgender community, with a lawyer saying that they had barged into the event without a warrant and without being accompanied by the police.

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