KUCHING: Twenty-five Muslims in various parts of the state have been caught eating in public places during the first three days of Ramadan.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said yesterday that all of those nabbed were men, in their 30s.
“They were caught in the open. Barely a week and 25 people have been caught. For Sarawak, this is the worst,” lamented Daud to reporters after disbursing Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak zakat funds to 35 individuals here yesterday.
He said the names of those caught might be published in the media soon.
Daud said enforcement officers could only catch those flouting the law in public places, and not in private residences.
The penalty is a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or six month imprisonment or both upon conviction.
“The law applies to Muslims who sell food and drinks to a Muslim as well. The business owner, being a Muslim, would be fined as well,” he cautioned.
Daud added that the law might be amended to teach offenders a lesson.
“We do not want those not observing the fasting month to misbehave in public.”
Last year, 84 Muslims were caught eating in public places throughout the state last year, an increase of 33 from the 51 caught in 2009.
When met at his Hari Raya Open House in Matang last year, Daud revealed that when the regulation to arrest people eating in public places was implemented in 2007, more than 100 people were arrested.
Expressing his disappointment over the attitude of some Muslims who still eat in public during Ramadan, he said: “I’m surprised to see that some Muslims were still ignorant of the Holy month, whereas non-Muslims respect it.
“When organising events during the fasting month, they (the non-Muslim) will not provide food and drink because they understand the culture and respect our religion (Islam). Yet, here we are, catching Muslims who eat in public places.”