KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom sought to put a lid on the controversy surrounding Kelantan’s move to allow public caning for Shariah offenders this week.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the whipping penalty carried out in prison can actually be deemed to be public caning in Islam, which only requires more than two observers, national news agency Bernama reported today.
“In prison there are already more than two people including the doctor who is there to observe, the religious [enforcement] officer, the offender’s escort and others on duty,” he was quoted telling reporters in Guar Chempedak, Kedah after officiating the Jerai Umno Youth delegates meeting there.
The Jerai Umno chief was also reported telling people that whipping outside prisons for Shariah offences is not new in the country as it was already a practice in Sabah.
“Don’t turn it into an issue… this practice has already been carried out outside prisons in Tawau,” he was quoted saying and added that many do not understand the laws based on Shariah only involves Muslims.
Sabah’s Shariah courts had meted out three public whipping sentences since 2014, all for the Islamic crime of zina or illicit sex, with the last reported punishment carried out on a couple last year in a civil courtroom in Tawau, reportedly due to a request from participants of an unnamed seminar who wanted to see how Shariah whipping is carried out.
The all-Muslim Kelantan state legislative assembly passed the amendment to its Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 last Wednesday to allow public caning for four offences: sodomy, illicit sex, alcohol consumption and false accusation.