Terengganu criticised for 'witch-hunt on Muslim couples'

Terengganu criticised for 'witch-hunt on Muslim couples'
PHOTO: The Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has criticised Terengganu's Ops Bonceng, saying it may end up like a witch-hunt against Muslim couples.

The operation, launched by the Terengganu Religious Affairs Department, was targeted at Muslim couples who acted indecently while riding motorcycles.

They are not allowed to hug or sit too closely together.

News reports said pillion riders should not put their hands in the jacket pocket of the motorcyclists.

"How long and spacious is the length of a motorcycle seat?" asked MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker in a statement.

He said the department should explain how its enforcement officers would be able to identify Muslims or non-Muslims based on their appearances.

Ti also said the bureau was cautious that the operation would be extended to passengers of other vehicles such as cars.

In such instances of public indecency, he said there were already laws in place about outraging of modesty, public nuisance and indecency which are applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

He also criticised the department's warning that its enforcement team need not record the act as the eyewitness' testimony was enough as proof in court.

"How can a testimony based solely on hearsay without corroborative physical evidence be accepted by the prosecutor or judge in any court, be it criminal or civil cases?

"Such testimony opens the floodgates for perjury and vindictive false accusations in court," he added.

He said it would be more beneficial to the public if the department were to help the police deal with street robberies rather than become voyeuristic snoop squads.

Lau Chin Kok, who is MCA Publicity Bureau deputy chairman, said it was "second nature" for the person riding pillion to hold onto the rider as a safety measure.

"If an adult male is fetching his neighbour's teenage or young daughter to tuition or another function as a favour, why should such goodwill be deemed offensive behaviour?

"The department should instead work with the Road Transport Department to discourage youths from performing Mat Rempit stunts," Lau added.

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