Criminalising 'khalwat' may embarrass Malaysia, says group of prominent Malays

Member of the group of prominent Malays Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim said in a statement yesterday that the policing of moral values tended to raise questions about the priority in the ranking of social ills.
PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - The criminalising of khalwat (close proximity) can cause embarrassment to the country, says G25.

Member of the group of prominent Malays Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim said in a statement yesterday that the policing of moral values tended to raise questions about the priority in the ranking of social ills.

He said that even Islamic leaders consider khalwat raids un-Islamic since it might give the impression that the religion used punishment as its only means of uphold moral values.

"Malays who have visited or lived in the Gulf states say they have not come across any Arab country that uses the moral police to conduct raids that encroach into the privacy of homes or hotel rooms in search of khalwat offenders," he said.

Mohd Sheriff, who is a former treasury secretary-general, said the law could be easily exploited, adding that authorities should learn from the failed experience of dictatorial regimes.

"All their laws and political indoctrinations failed to save the regimes from collapsing when their people decided to rise against these dictatorships," he said.

He added that Saudi Arabia had issued stern guidelines to limit the powers of the moral police to harass and arrest.

"The instruction is that the moral police should not take the law into their own hands and instead, should advise those committing offences under the morality laws to change and repent," he said.

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