The MCA Youth views the news reports on the conviction of an Indonesian Christian reflexologist by the Penang Syariah Court two years ago for close proximity (khalwat) with grave concern.
The MCA Youth Legal Bureau is perturbed by the fact that the Jabatan Agama Islam Pulau Pinang (JAIPP) would arrest, and thereafter prosecute, a person who does not profess the religion of Islam. This is clearly against the Federal Constitution and the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004 where Syariah Courts can only have jurisdiction over persons professing the religion of Islam. The acts of the JAIPP are thus ultra vires and we regret to note that not only did JAIPP has proceeded to prosecute the said Indonesian Christian reflexologist, JAIPP had attempted to strike out her appeal against the conviction despite having knowledge of the fact that she is not of Muslim faith. As such, we call on the JAIPP to forthwith cease taking any further step to challenge the appeal by the said Indonesian Christian reflexologist against the conviction.
In addition to that, JAIPP must apologise and compensate the said Indonesian Christian reflexologist for the pain, anguish, stress and fear caused to her as a result of the wrongful prosecution. Given that the JAIPP is a state agency, we also urge the Penang State Government to immediately review the standard operating procedures of JAIPP to safeguard the interests of the non-Muslims from being wrongfully arrested or prosecuted by the state religious agency in the future. At the same time, it is necessary that a thorough review is conducted against the agency to ensure that there is no ongoing case against any other non-Muslim to which they have no jurisdiction.
The MCA Youth would also like to reiterate our position that freedom of religion is one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by our Federal Constitution, to which we must all uphold and defend vigorously. As such, the authorities must not only respect the laws of this country but also to act in accordance with and act within the confines of the laws to ensure that freedom of religion in this country is upheld and practised without any interference.
CHOO WEI SERN (ERIC) MCA Youth Legal Bureau Chairman