IPOH: The caning sentence imposed by the Kuantan Syariah High Court on former part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor has been commuted to community service on the orders of the Sultan of Pahang.
Kartika’s father Shukarnor Abdul Mutalib said his daughter received a letter stating as such from the Pahang State Islamic and Malay Culture Council yesterday.
“Kartika was ordered by the Sultan to do three weeks of community service at a welfare home in Kuantan instead. I will personally be sending her to Kuantan tomorrow (for this alternative punishment),” he said when contacted in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
However, he said the letter did not state where Kartika would have to stay or the type of community service she would have to do while in Kuantan.
He added that the family was relieved by the latest development and hoped it would help his daughter to move on with her life, now that there had been closure to the case.
“It has been a long wait for us and as we had stated earlier, we will abide by whatever decision the Sultan made on the matter,” he said.
Kartika, meanwhile, said she was ready to carry out the community service although the decision came as a surprise.
“I hope this community service will serve as a lesson to others to stay away from alcohol,” said the single-mother, adding that her two children would be left in the care of her parents at their home in Kampung Jawang, Sungai Siput near here while she completed her sentence.
Kartika was sentenced in July last year to six strokes of the cane and a fine of RM5,000 for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in Kuantan, in violation of Islamic laws.
On Aug 24 2009, she was to be brought to the Kajang Prison to undergo the caning punishment but it was called off at the eleventh hour.
After a period of being in limbo (as to whether the caning punishment would be carried out), the matter was brought before the Sultan and hence this latest development in her case.
In Kuantan, Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said the Sultan exercised his wisdom in lessening the punishment on Kartika.
“The Sultan has the final say in the matter and he also arrived at the decision based on humanitarian grounds,” he told reporters when met after the Pahang-Selangor match in the Tun Abdul Razak Cup hockey tournament at the Pahang Sports Council Hockey Stadium.
In Kuala Lumpur, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz welcomed the decision by the Sultan in commuting the caning sentence on Kartika to community service.
“It is good, it is his prerogative (Sultan’s), I welcome the lessening of the punishment because to me, punishment by caning should be the last resort,” he told reporters at parliament’s lobby.
Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Minister in the Prime Minister Department in charge of religious affairs, also supported the decision by the Sultan to commute the caning sentence on Kartika.
“It is within the Sultan’s powers to commute the sentence, all quarters should accept the decision of the Sultan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sisters-in-Islam executive director Dr Hamidah Marican said her organisation also welcomed the decision. — Bernama