KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Under media spotlight for arresting unmarried Muslims couples riding motorcycles together, Terengganu Islamic authorities admitted today that it is considering extending the enforcement to passengers in other vehicles, such as cars.
Despite that, Terengganu Religious Affairs Department (JHEAT) said implementing the anti-vice operation dubbed Ops Bonceng for other vehicles would be different, admitting that religious officers would not be able to observe Muslims in cars.
“There are suggestions to extend [the operation] but we have to see first how Ops Bonceng is being handled,” JHEAT’s chief assistant commissioner (enforcement) Nik Zulhaiza Ismail told Malay Mail Online’s sister publication ProjekMMO.
“We cannot just implement [checking non-mahram] riding in cars together [like in Ops Bonceng] because the enforcers’ eyes cannot see what happens.”
‘Mahram’, also pronounced ‘muhrim’ in Malay, is a concept in Shariah law that refers to unmarriageable kin, such as blood relatives.
“We cannot punish and assume what they do. Unlike riding motorcycles, it is obvious that they sit together closely,” he said.
Despite that, Nik Zulhaiza said JHEAT already has provisions to act on Muslim couples who are caught together in secluded places.
“For those together alone in the car in quiet places, for example, we already have Sections 29 and 31.
“Section 29 can be used if enforcers see that the couple is already naked, while Section 31 if they are making out and so on,” he said.
Under the state’s Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Takzir) 2001, Sections 29 and 31 handle the acts of “getting ready for sex out of wedlock” and “close proximity” respectively.
On Monday, Malay daily Sinar Harian reported that JHEAT nabbed 26 unmarried Muslim couples for riding motorcycles together.
All 52 of them, aged between 16 and 42 years old, were arrested under Ops Bonceng last week under the offence of “immoral act in public”.