WE refer to the announcement by the director-general of Jakim, Datuk Othman Mustapha, that two officers and a sergeant from the Royal Malaysia Police will be placed at the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) to assist the department in syariah law enforcement.
According to Othman, this is a trial project and the intention is to extend this arrangement to the Islamic religious departments of other states. These police officers will be giving JAIS advice and sharing expertise in conducting enforcement operations as well as using their own network to get more police assistance needed in an operation.
The G25 and other Muslim NGOs have repeatedly voiced our concern about criminalising personal sins and moral policing. In addition, we are concerned that scarce police resources are being diverted from combatting real criminal activities on Malaysian streets and homes.
Recent surveys have rated Malaysia as one of the most unsafe Asian countries with a high crime rate.
The public expects the police to use all of its available resources in the execution of its core functions. Under the Police Act 1967, these include the maintenance of law and order, preservation of peace and security of the country, prevention and detection of crime, apprehension and prosecution of offenders and the collection of security intelligence. Moral policing does not appear to have been included in the list of duties of the police under the Police Act.
There have been numerous reports of deaths and injuries resulting from street crimes. High rates of burglaries and thefts have added to the already high cost of living from the need to hire private security 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.
Security is important to maintain a consistently positive investment climate.
It is imperative for the police to dedicate all their resources to eradicating criminal activities and improve public security.
Doing away with moral policing will not adversely affect public security. Should religious departments then be taking away the already limited police resources?
In the current situation of revenue being jeopardised by lower oil prices and slower economic growth, it is good financial management to allocate resources where they are most needed. Surely additional resources to the religious departments for moral policing and syariah law enforcement should be the lowest of our priorities?
The police should protect its professional reputation in law enforcement. The G25 fears that its involvement in moral policing will cast a dark shadow on the system of justice in Malaysia, especially when there is a miscarriage of justice and the police are seen arresting innocent citizens for religious offences.
Reports of such police actions on private love affairs, which are criminalised in Malaysia, will scare away inward tourism, thus crippling one of our biggest and fastest growing industries.
Another concern is that the Government will be seen as using police power to enforce the Islamisation of the country, a perception which will frighten not only foreigners but also its own citizens.
The fear is that the police is being taken over by the religious establishment to make Malaysia an Islamic state.