First. Last week, PAS said that whipping was a form of education.
Second. Yesterday, PAS Dewan Ulama chief, Mahfodz Mohamed, said that the caning gave Terengganu free publicity. Is he saying he is proud of the negative publicity?
Third. Mahfodz also told Putrajaya that PAS’ success in managing the economy of Kelantan and the integrity of its administration should be a model at the federal level.
Really? Did he think before he spoke? Drug taking. Incest. HIV/AIDS. Highest number of hard core porn watchers on the internet. Illegal loggling upriver causing flooding downstream. Poor rubbish collection and waste management.
Fourth. S. Balasubramaniam, the chief of the non-Muslim wing of PAS Supporters (Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS, DHPP), said that its members supported the public caning of two lesbians in Terengganu, because of its positive social impact to the state.
Heading towards a Taliban state
On 5 September, the Kelantan Menteri Besar, Ahmad Yakob, was considering carrying out the whipping in a stadium. What next? Public executions of adulterers or homosexuals in the stadium, too?
If Malaysians are not careful, and fail to question their religious leaders and politicians, they risk the nation becoming a Taliban state, where lesbians are whipped and tomorrow, they will be hurled off cliffs.
Do not forget that extremism is being exported from Malaysia into Syria and other parts of the world, in the form of Malaysians who are willing to die for their warped interpretation of Islam, as espoused by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
The public whipping of two women was supposed to be conducted on 28 August, but for reasons known only to the Terengganu authorities, it was postponed. Presumably, they were afraid of the backlash from the Malaysian public and the international media. The people had voted for change, to rid the nation of corrupt and unjust leaders, but on the east coast, the state authorities are still steeped in the practices of the middle ages.
Putrajaya claimed that it could not halt the whipping on 3 September, because Islamic law was under the jurisdiction of the state, and PAS controlled Terengganu.
The state exco member in charge of syariah implementation, Satiful Bahri Mamat, said that the state wanted to educate the public about caning, under Islamic law. He said that caning was not a cruel act, nor was it intented to hurt the women.
He claimed that caning was to educate the public, and was instrumental in reminding the public not to commit zina (illicit sex).
He said that zina was “a cancer that can spread in society”, and after the public spectacle, the people would no longer be shocked.
Perak mufti and reform through whipping
Speaking from Perak, the mufti, Harussani Zakaria, said that caning promoted reform, not just a physical punishment. He claimed that the caning was a religious, and not a political matter. His response came after the prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, expressed his disapproval of the caning, as it could hurt the public’s view of Islam, and reiterated his belief that there were more compassionate ways of dealing with the offence.
Mahathir is right. The Malaysian public and international perception of Islam, as it is practised in Malaysia, can see that we are slipping back into the middle ages. The public whipping is degrading and the humiliation is compounded, by the invitation of 100 members of the public to view the punishment.
It strips the women, who are aged 22 and 32, of all dignity and self-respect, and the experience will scar them for life.
PAS’ Satiful Bahri Mamat claimed that the punishment was educational. How does he quantify and justify this statement? The world sees Islam as a violent religion, which lacks compassion and understanding.
The Terengganu Bar Committee chairman, Sallehudin Harun, admitted his initial concern about the caning because it was a severe punishment, but his concern was dispelled because he said the punishment “gave the public clarity”. What does he mean?
Educate the men
If these two alleged lesbians were punished for allegedly attempting to commit lewd acts, then they must answer to their God, on judgement day.
If the two women are being educated, what about similar “education” for the paedophiles who marry young teenage girls?
What about educating the evil men who rape babies and other underaged children?
What about educating the men who bed other women from across the border, then give HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases to their wives?
What about educating Malay Muslim men to be responsible, instead of picking on two women, by whipping them, as a means of warning other women?
Putrajaya needs to act fast, and not hide behind the shield of religion as a state issue.