Sunday, November 28

Heavier penalties for not observing fasting month

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State mulls amending Section 14 of the Syariah Crime Ordinance 2001

KUCHING: The government is prepared to amend Section 14 of the Syariah Crime Ordinance 2001 to allow for heavier penalties to be meted out on Muslims caught not observing the Ramadan fasting month.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman told reporters here yesterday that the state could even introduce community service as their punishment apart from a heavier fine and longer jail term.

“It’s worst in Sarawak. Only two days into the fasting month and we have already caught 25 people. All those caught are men and they were all caught in the open.

“We are prepared to consider amending the existing laws if the needs arise,” Daud, who is also Baitulmal and Waqaf Board chairman told reporters when met after presenting Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak tithes at its premises in Jalan Haji Mohamad Kassim here.

His response came when asked by the media whether the state would contemplate on amending the law considering public speculation that existing penalties were too light. Speculation arises due to the rising cases of Muslims caught in public places not respecting the holy month.

“The main objective is not to burden the public but to warn and teach offenders a lesson,” continued Daud.

Section 14 of the ordinance provides a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or six months’ jail or both on conviction for the first offence.

For the second offence, the maximum penalty is RM2,000 fine or a jail term not more than one year or both.

As of yesterday, Bintulu recorded the highest number of offenders with nine, followed by four in Miri and three each in Kuching, Sri Aman and Mukah. A further two were caught in Sibu and one in Samarahan.