PETALING JAYA: The federal government cannot interfere with matters where state governments have jurisdiction over, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong (pic) .
“The breach of syariah law by the two women and its subsequent punishment of caning is under the state jurisdiction, and the federal government cannot interfere in the exercise of state authority.
“Item 1 list II of the ninth schedule of the Federal Constitution clearly states that the exercise of state jurisdiction on Islamic matters provided therein is a state matter, therefore the federal government cannot interfere in state jurisdiction,” he said in a statement yesterday.
On Monday, two women were sentenced to be caned six times each by the Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court after they pleaded guilty to same-sex relations.
The caning for such an offence is believed to be the first to be carried out in the state.
Terengganu Mentri Besar Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar yesterday said in Kuala Terengganu that the huge outcry over the caning issue was temporary.
“We believe there are still some things that people have yet to understand about it and in time, they will,” he said at a press conference after an event to celebrate the state’s football team in winning the President’s Cup.
After the sentence was carried out, netizens took to social media to voice their disapproval, with some even threatening to boycott Terengganu’s economy.
However, Dr Ahmad Samsuri defended the caning decision as the authorities had acted in accordance to the rule of law.
In Kuantan, authorities in Pahang are discussing the possibility of caning Muslims in the state who engage in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities, said state Islamic Religion Department (JAIP) director Datuk Mohamad Noor Abdul Rani.
“We support what has been done in Terengganu. Such a punishment is justifiable but it has to be done in line with the way of Islam,” he said after launching the department's Konvoi Kembara Merdeka Hijrah 2018 in Pekan yesterday.
Caning is an existing form of punishment for Muslims in the state convicted of having sex out of wedlock, drinking alcohol and other offences under Pahang’s Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 2013.
The enactment allows for caning not exceeding six strokes.
Pahang mufti Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Rahman Osman said caning those involved in LGBT activities could be done if the matter passed the legislative process at the state assembly.
However, Dr Abdul Rahman said punishment was just one approach in tackling the issue.
“Punishment and rehabilitation are two different things.
“We must still engage with LGBT individuals and provide them with counselling,” he said.
Separately, The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) criticised the caning, saying the act was “a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment on two women who were found guilty for attempting to have consensual sex between themselves”.
“While Suhakam is aware that the law provides for punishment by caning, the court ought to have exercised judicial discretion, in accordance with principles of compassion, mercy and human dignity in Islam,” said its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail.