Corpun file 21443
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 6 July 2009
Get facts right about caning, immigration tells Amnesty
By Farrah Naz
Click to enlarge
PUTRAJAYA: Amnesty International has been slammed for urging
the government to abolish the caning of illegal immigrants, with
a top Immigration Department official telling the London-based
human rights organisation to "get its facts right".
Immigration director-general Abdul Rahman Othman said not all
illegal immigrants in the country were liable to be caned.
Immigration law allows caning only for those who enter the
country through illegal means.
"Most of the estimated two million illegal immigrants in the
country are over-stayers, and -- be clear about this -- they do
not face caning."
Rahman said the Amnesty International report should get its take
on the issues right.
"On the one hand, it wants us to address the problem of
human trafficking. When we execute the law that can help reduce
this problem, we are chastised for it.
"Illegal entry into this country is dealt with severely
because it not only poses a security threat to Malaysia but
contributes to various other problems, including prostitution and
the much-talked about human trafficking."
Last month, the United States identified Malaysia as one of the
worst offenders on its blacklist of governments believed to be
doing little to stop the trafficking in humans.
And Amnesty International said tens of thousands of migrants had
received "inhuman and degrading" punishment in recent
It cited a statement in Parliament recently that the Prisons
Department had caned at least 34,923 illegal immigrants between
2002 and 2008. Sixty per cent were Indonesians. The rest were
from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and
Mandatory caning of up to six strokes of the rotan was added to
Immigration laws in 2002, along with fines and jail terms of up
to five years for those convicted of trafficking in humans. Other
crimes punishable with caning include rape and drug trafficking.
Amnesty International has argued that "caning is humiliating
and causes such pain that people have reportedly fainted. Those
caned often carry scars, psychological as well as physical, for
Rahman said caning deterred unsavoury characters from entering
the country illegally and had served the country well in
staunching the problem. The department's prosecutors had also
been directed to make sure Malaysians who employed undocumented
foreigners were caned.
Copyright © 2009 NST Online. All rights
Corpun file 21438
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 7 July 2009
'No' to caning by Sessions Court Judge
Click to enlarge
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court ruled yesterday that a
judge cannot play the role of executioner and set aside the
caning sentence imposed on an armed robber. n making the ruling,
High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said Sessions
Court judge Zainal Abidin Kamarudin had erred when he sentenced
sales promoter Muhammad Syafiq Ab Wahab to 200 hours of community
service together with 10 strokes of a light cane.
In his decision on June 26, Zainal Abidin had also said that he
would personally execute the caning within the court premises on
In his ruling yesterday, Zabidin said: "If it was the only
sentence imposed, there would be nothing illegal about it, as
long as the judge does not carry out the caning himself.
"This is for the obvious reason that the judge is not
supposed to be an executioner at the same time," he said,
adding that unless there were rules in place, it was hard to
envisage how this order of caning could be carried out.
Instead, he ordered that Syafiq be only sentenced to 200 hours of
Zabidin also said the High Court must be careful in invoking its
discretionary powers to interfere in any sentence legally
imposed, particularly when the parties involved had shown that
they had accepted the sentence by not filing an appeal.
He also said that the judge had erred when he made the order of
caning together with community service and said that he was only
empowered to impose one of the five options stated under Section
293 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He said that combining the
sentence of caning and community service made the sentence
After setting aside the caning order, Zabidin remitted the case
back to the lower court to address the issue of community
He ordered that the case be mentioned today at Sessions Court 6
for the judge to seek advice from welfare officers on the various
community service programmes available.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Yaacub Chik, Syafiq's
lawyer Nik Mohamed Ikhwan Nik Mahamud, Datuk N. Sivananthan, who held a watching brief for the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee's criminal practice committee, and Edmund Bon, who
was the watching brief counsel for the KL Bar, took the common
ground by submitting that the sentence of community service was
Syafiq had pleaded guilty to robbing a student, Muhammad Fitri
Muhammad Zamzuri, 16, of his identification card and handphone
using a knife behind the Cheras football stadium at 1.30am on Nov
16 last year.
Corpun file 21501
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 21 July 2009
Rotan for having a beer
By Alina Simon
[Picture of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno from The Straits Times, Singapore, 23 July 2009]
KUANTAN: A 32-year-old part-time model from Singapore
charged with having a beer in a nightclub last year was ordered
by the Syariah High Court yesterday to receive six strokes of the
rotan. Kartika Sari Sewi Shukarno, who pleaded guilty to
consuming alcohol in public when she made her first court
appearance in December, was also fined RM5,000.
The model, who wore a blue baju kurung and black headscarf, kept
her head down and was silent as judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Yunus
read out the sentence. He said the accused could face a
three-year jail term if she could not pay the fine while the
rotan would be carried out by federal prison authorities.
He said the sentence was under Section 136 of the Pahang Islamic
and Malay Traditional Practices Enactment 1982 (amendment 1987).
"The court reached the judgment after the accused pleaded
guilty. We feel the sentence is fair after going through the
prosecution's argument and since the rotan is provided for in the
Click to enlarge
"The rotan is aimed at making the accused repent and serves
as a lesson to Muslims."
Kartika committed the offence at a hotel night club in Cherating
and was arrested during a raid by a team from the state religious
department at 1.20am on July 12, 2007.
Her lawyer Mohd Zuki Che Muhamad Ghani said he would file an
application for a stay of execution pending an appeal.
This is the second time the Syariah Court here has imposed
whipping on a female. The first was on a waitress and a man who
were caught together with Kartika during the same operation in
The 38-year-old from Kemaman, Terengganu, and the 22-year-old
waitress from Selangor were also fined RM5,000 each and ordered
to receive six strokes of the rotan.
However, the whipping has yet to be carried out in these cases
which are pending appeal.
The sentence for consuming alcohol was made stiffer when the
Islamic Religious Administration and Pahang Malay Tradition
Enactment 1982 was amended in 1987.
Under Section 136 of the enactment, those who are found guilty
can be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed a maximum of three years, or
both, and sentenced to six strokes of the rotan.
Corpun file 21500
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 23 July 2009
'Prison can carry out syariah caning'
By V. Anbalagan
KUALA LUMPUR: A syariah lawyer said the part-time model
who was sentenced to six strokes of the rotan for drinking beer
could be caned in a civil prison if all conditions are met.
Muhamad Burok said Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno must be sent to a
prison accompanied by a syariah court order that imposed the
"She must be punished by a person who is trained to execute
the caning," said Muhamad, who is also adviser to the
Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association.
Muhamad said he was made to understand that prison staff were
trained to cane according to syariah requirements.
However, he had no knowledge of women being caned for violating
He was responding to a statement by Kartika's lawyer, Mohd Zuki
Che Muhamad Ghani, that prison authorities could not carry out
the caning as the syariah court judgment did not include a jail
On Monday, the syariah court in Kuantan sentenced Kartika, 32, to
six strokes of the rotan and fined her RM5,000 for drinking beer
at a nightclub. She paid the fine.
This is the second time the syariah court sentenced a woman to be
The first case involved a waitress and a man caught together with
Kartika during the same raid by the state religious department at
1.20am on July 12, 2007.
The 38-year-old man from Kemaman, Terengganu, and the 22-year-old
waitress from Selangor, were also fined RM5,000 each and were
sentenced to six strokes but the caning has not been carried out
as the appeals were pending.
The same syariah court in June 2005 meted out a similar sentence
on two brothers for drinking beer and the authorities were also
in a dilemma as the penalty was not accompanied by a jail
It is unclear whether the brothers were caned.
Meanwhile in Ipoh, Kartika said she wanted to get the ordeal over
with so that she could focus on her life with her family and two
"I will accept this earthly punishment, let Allah decide my
punishment in the hereafter," she said yesterday.
Kartika, who has been living in Singapore for the last 15 years
after marrying a local citizen, said her husband was aware of her
desire to undergo the caning and he respected her decision.
"I want to advise youngsters to learn from my experience and
not cause shame to themselves and their families."
On Tuesday, Mohd Zuki said she would not be appealing against the
Corpun file 21540
The Malay Mail, Kuala Lumpur, 23 July 2009
'Get on with it' says Kartika
Allah will decide my punishment in the hereafter, says
By Ng Suzhen
IN a new twist, part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, now says she wants her punishment to be carried out quickly and that she will not file an appeal.
Ordered to be whipped six times by the Kuantan Syariah Court,
after she had pleaded guilty to consuming beer in public in
Cherating, Pahang on July 11, 2007, Bernama reported that Kartika
just wanted the ordeal to be over.
"I will accept this punishment, let Allah decide my
punishment in the hereafter," said Kartika, who has been
residing in Singapore for the last 15 years.
Based on the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002, the
whipping tool used must be a rotan or small branch that should be
not more than 1.22 metres long and not more than 1.25cm thick.
The whipping has to be done using moderate force and the
punisher should not raise the hands over the head to avoid
injuring the skin. The appointed punisher must be a fair and
mature person, During the punishment, the offender must be
dressed according to Syariah law.
Click to enlarge
Male offenders will be whipped while standing whereas female
offenders will be in a sitting position when whipping commences.
Whipping would not be done on pregnant offenders and would
only be done two months after delivery. It must not hit the face,
head, stomach, breast or private parts - only the buttocks.
The offender's health should be checked by government health
officers who should also be present during whipping.
The whipping must be done at locations determined by the court
or the State government. The whipping punishment is more commonly
conducted at the Penor jail in Kuantan, Pahang as the officers
there are trained to conduct them.
Earlier, women leaders such as Women, Family and Community
Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and
Titiwangsa Member of Parliament Dr Lo'Lo Datuk Mohd Ghazali had
expressed concern over the harsh punishment in relation to the
Copyright 2009 Malay Mail Sdn. Bhd.
Corpun file 21584
The Straits Times, Singapore, 24 July 2009
Pahang, Perlis, Kelantan allow caning of women
By Elizabeth Looi
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Islamic law that allows for the
caning of Muslims for having alcoholic drinks is an established
one, having been passed 25 years ago by the federal government, a
senior lawyer said yesterday.
It may have escaped the public's attention until the recent
decision to cane a Malaysian model for the offence because in the
past most who were found guilty were usually given lesser
penalties, Mr Mohd Isa Abdul Ralip, president of the Malaysian
Syariah Lawyers Association, said.
"The Syariah Court Act 1984 is a federal law that regulates
the different types of punishment in all the states," Mr
Mohd Isa told The Straits Times.
"The act stipulates a RM5,000 fine or three years' jail or a
maximum of six strokes. In most cases, the offender was fined or
The last time a man was whipped under the same law for drinking
was about 10 years ago in Kelantan, Mr Mohd Isa said.
He added that all Muslims, regardless of whether they are
tourists or Malaysians, are subject to local Islamic laws.
Under the Syariah Criminal Offences Code, only Pahang, Perlis and
Kelantan provide for whipping of women.
This week, a Pahang syariah court sentenced 32-year-old Malaysian
model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to six strokes of the rotan and
fined her RM5,000 (S$2,000) for drinking beer in a hotel
nightclub two years ago.
Kartika, who is married to a Singaporean, has paid the fine. She
is likely to be the first Malaysian woman to be flogged for the
offence as another woman who was similarly convicted has appealed
against her sentence.
Click to enlarge
Women leaders including Women Minister Shahrizat Jalil and PAS
lawmaker Dr Lo' Lo' Ghazali have expressed shock over the case.
Yesterday, Sisters In Islam called on the government to review
Said Ms Hamidah Merican, executive director of the
non-governmental organisation: "We urge the government to
conduct a review of severe forms of punishments, which violate
human rights principles and where evidence has shown that they
fail to deter or to reform the offenders."
She argued that there is no consensus among Muslim scholars that
women should be whipped.
The punishment has received extensive media coverage in the Malay
newspapers here. But it had less play in the English and Chinese
papers which gave greater play to the mysterious circumstances
surrounding the death of a political aide.
The opposition parties have so far stayed clear of the issue, as
it could easily start a new war of words between the
Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam
But the Malaysian blogosphere was more direct in its negative
reactions, with several people saying that they have seen many
middle-class Malays drinking in bars and clubs.
"Why pick on one person? Just to make an example out of her?
Because she feels vulnerable at this time and has no big shot to
pull strings for her?" asked one commentator on the popular
Malaysia Today website.
Corpun file 21492
The Straits Times, Singapore, 25 July 2009
Malaysia in heated debate over caning of woman
PM's religious adviser dismisses criticism that court ruling
By Elizabeth Looi
Click to enlarge
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Abdullah Mohd Zain, religious adviser to
the Premier, has brushed aside criticisms that an Islamic court
ruling to cane a woman for drinking beer is harsh, saying she had
broken the law.
Mr Abdullah told The Straits Times yesterday that Muslim women
leaders who criticised the court's decision did not know that
syariah caning is 'not as brutal as the civil court's corporal
'Criticisms are normal, but it is not fair for non-Muslims to
criticise the syariah law. The Muslims criticise it because they
do not know how the caning is done.'
He was commenting on the Syariah High Court ruling in Pahang
on Monday which sentenced a 32-year-old Malaysian woman, Kartika
Sari Dewi Shukarnor, to six strokes of the cane.
'Not many Malaysian Muslims know what syariah caning is like,
that is why they are shocked over the punishment,' said Mr
Abdullah, adviser on Islamic issues to Prime Minister Najib
Under an Act on Islam in Malaysia that was passed in 1984, the
female offender must sit when being caned.
The officer will use a smooth branch or rotan that is slightly
thinner than those used to whip men in a civil court punishment.
The officer must not raise his hand higher than his shoulder
to ensure that the caning is moderate.
But women leaders including Islamic law experts, social
activists and politicians condemned the punishment, the first
time that a woman would face judicial caning.
'From my experience, in nearly all cases, the normal practice
is for the judge to take into consideration all the facts and
mitigating factors. The offenders will usually be fined,' said
Universiti Malaya Islamic criminal law expert Siti Zubaidah
Ismail in the New Straits Times yesterday.
Women's Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said:
'We are mortified that a court would even consider imposing
caning on a woman, especially when women are exempted from caning
under the penal code.'
But other religious leaders and syariah lawyers felt that the
punishment was not unjust.
'Punishment like caning and stoning have existed in Islam but
we will not see it being carried out in Malaysia as long as the
country is governed by secularists,' said Parti Islam SeMalaysia
spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
Kartika, a Singapore permanent resident, was caught by the
Islamic authorities for drinking beer while on a holiday with
friends in Cherating, Pahang, two years ago.
She pleaded guilty last year. She was also fined RM5,000
Her father, Mr Shukarnor Abdul Mutalib, told The Straits Times
that Kartika is now resting in their family home in Perak.
'I'm not asking for the court to punish my daughter, but I
just want them to carry out the decision that they've made.
'But now that the case has become a national issue, let's see
how they are going to do it,' said the 62-year-old businessman.
He also clarified that Kartika was a hospital worker in
Singapore, and not a model as reported by the media.
'Kartika quit her job in Singapore after she was charged with
the case, and her husband was never involved because he was not
there in Cherating with her,' added Mr Shukarnor.
Previous reports have said that her husband, a Singaporean,
was with her that evening, but was let off.
Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Corpun file 21543
The Sunday Star, Kuala Lumpur, 26 July 2009
Is whipping the answer?
Malaysians were shocked when a woman was sentenced by the
Pahang Syariah Court to six lashes of the rotan for drinking
alcohol. They were again shocked when she decided not to appeal.
By Shahanaaz Habib
THERE is still time for Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to
reconsider and appeal, said her lawyer Mohd Zuki Che Muhamad
"I told her to go and discuss it with her family,"
he said, commenting on his client's shocking decision not to
appeal against her sentence.
He said Kartika, 32, had 14 days to appeal (from July 20, the
date of the sentencing) and so he did not want to record her
refusal to appeal as yet because she might change her mind by Aug
Zuki explained that Kartika had not wanted to appeal because the
process would take a year or two to be heard. She felt it was too
long and as she had already pleaded guilty she was afraid she
would be sent to jail instead.
"The offenders plead guilty first and it is only just before
the sentencing that they look for a lawyer," he said, which
was the case with Kartika.
Last week, Kartika who has two children was sentenced to RM5,000
and six strokes of the rotan for drinking beer at the Legend
Hotel lounge in Cherating.
Although she is the second woman to receive the caning sentence
(the first was waitress Noorazah Baharuddin), by choosing not to
appeal, Kartika looks set to be the first woman in the country to
Syariah Judge Abdul Rahman Yunus dealt Kartika the maximum
sentence, saying he wanted it to be a deterrent.
This is not the first time this judge has come down hard on
In 2005, he passed the very same sentence (RM5,000 and six
lashes) on two brothers, Mohd Nizam Ibrahim and Mohd Nasha, for
drinking stout in public. Earlier this year, he sentenced Mohamad
Nasir Mohamad and another woman, Noorazah Baharuddin, to six
lashes and a fine also for drinking.
But they all appealed and their cases are still pending in court.
Kartika was calm when the court decision was read out and
initially said she would appeal. She later changed her mind,
saying she has repented and is prepared to be caned. And she
wants it to be done as soon as possible so that she can move on.
Some praised her decision saying she was brave while others are
outraged, fearing it could set a precedent where the Syariah
courts would now not think twice about sentencing other women to
whipping for similar offences.
Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan are three states in the country in
which Syariah law provides for women to be caned for criminal
Under the Syariah, drinking for Muslims is classified as a
Syariah lawyer Sa'adiah Din was surprised by the Pahang Syariah
While caning is allowed under the state Syariah law and there are
details on the type of rotan (thin), and manner of whipping
(moderate strength) to minimise injury, "that doesn't mean
I'm comfortable with it," she said.
She questioned why Kartika, a first time offender, was served the
"I also ask "why now'. We never had it before even
though the law has been there for a long time. If it is supposed
to teach the public a lesson, why pick on the weaker sex?
"Drinking alcohol is wrong in Islam but it is a personal
offence. It is not like an offence against the state or others,
like stealing or snatching someone's bag.
"So I would prefer for those who drink to plead their case
before Allah on the Day of Judgement (rather than be caned on
earth for the offence). They will have to answer to Allah,"
Consuming alcohol is wrong but the authorities should try some other approach like counselling the person" -- Dr Chandra Muzaffar
Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just
World, revealed a poignant point when he said the Quran does not
state a punishment for consuming alcohol.
"It is regarded as wrong but the Quran does not provide a
mode of punishment. Compare this to other wrongs like stealing:
the mode of punishment for that is prescribed in the Quran,"
he said, adding that punishment for drinking came about only
after the Prophet's time with the evolution of fiqh (Islamic
Malaysia Syariah Lawyers Association president Mohamad Isa Abd
Ralip agrees with the sentencing and stresses that the rationale
is to didik (educate) so that people will stay away from alcohol.
Jail sentences, fines and whipping are all part and parcel of
Syariah law, he said, and it is up to the judge to chose.
"It's just that the judge rarely orders a caning but it is
within his right to do so and we have to respect the
Dr Chandra, however, feels that corporal punishment should not be
inflicted on a man or woman for drinking.
"Consuming alcohol is wrong but the authorities should try
some other approach like advising or counselling the person.
Nasihat (counsel) is emphasised in the Quran," he said.
Click to enlarge
Dr Chandra said he felt sorry for Kartika and her acceptance
of the court's decision "blindly with an uncritical
"The poor girl. It's a pity too that her decision (not to
appeal) is being commended by some religious individuals like
Datuk Nik Aziz (Nik Mat)."
He attributed Kartika's "blind acceptance" of the court
decision to a number of factors, among them a lack of knowledge
of the Quran, lack of understanding of the religion and what she
has been taught by those around her.
"This is part of the whole Islamic education system here
where individuals are not challenged to reflect or think upon
religion, laws and practices when Islam does actually encourage
reflection and thinking," he said.
For Dr Chandra, it is important to ask questions. "You have
to ask "Is it (caning for drinking) in the Quran? Is it the
right approach? Does whipping help as a deterrent? Once you use
the blind unthinking approach, then all these questions won't be
Jemaah Islah Malaysia's president Zaid Kamaruddin said that while
caning is in the statutes and it is up to the judge to choose,
"I would be happier if the judge chooses some other form of
punishment other than caning."
In the civil court, the rotan used is long and thick and
inflicted on bare skin. On impact, it breaks the skin and leaves
lasting scars. In comparison, the syariah cane is rather thin
-- 1.22m long and 1.25cm thick.
It should be a straight piece with no grooves, segments or
joints. The whipping should be done with average force without
lifting the hand over the head and the person whipped should be
fully dressed in accordance with Islam.
"Clearly, the rotan and whipping in Islam is very different.
Male offenders stand while being whipped and females sit, which
means the women kena sikit only.
"The way I look at it, it is almost like your mother pukul
(beating) you. The spirit of the sentence is to teach and not to
leave a mark," explained Sa'adiah.
Even so, argued Dr Chandra, there should not be too much emphasis
on the type of cane or manner of whipping that it distracts from
the real issue, which is the type of punishment being meted out
instead of advice and counselling.
Sisters in Islam also condemned the whipping sentence for women,
describing it as a violation of human rights principles and the
right to be "free from cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment
SIS executive director Dr Hamidah Marican said the whipping is
not proportional to the gravity of the offence and that research
has shown it is not an effective deterrent.
Also commenting on the issue, lawyer Haris Ibrahim said there is
growing encroachment in people's lives and this is encouraged by
silence -- people's unwillingness to speak up.
The compassionate side of Islam is not being seen, he said,
citing cases like the dumping of babies which invariably leads
back to young unwed Malay girls being so afraid of being hauled
up to the Syariah court that they try to conceal their shame by
dumping their newborn.
Sa'adiah has also noticed that of late there has been a trend
towards harsher penalties meted out by the Syariah court.
In the past, those caught for khalwat (close proximity) were
fined but since May some have been sent to prison.
"Even first offenders pun kena. No doubt all these are
provided for under the Act but to go for maximum
sentencing?" she queried, citing the case of a young college
boy who was sentenced to seven days' jail for khalwat and fined
There is no Syariah prison so the boy would have to serve the
sentence in a normal prison.
"He would also have a prison record. It would be hard when
he gets out of college and wants to apply for a job. Someone like
that could go into prison a good person and come out bad (because
of the experience)," she said.
Dr Chandra said all these only go to show the way in which
Islamic jurisprudence has evolved to be so powerful and dominant
in Muslim societies everywhere.
He said a notion like an Islamic state invariably means imposing
laws like this or hudud style punishment and "this is
something one should be conscious of."
This is made worse by the fact that Malaysia does not have a
strong intellectual tradition, debates or discussions on fiqh, so
"no reform trend" within Islam would emerge here.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and PAS' Dr Lo Lo Mohd Ghazali spoke up
against the sentence saying they were shocked by it and promptly
got flak from some groups for criticising the Syariah judge's
This forced Dr Lo Lo to make a U-turn a day or two later.
She said she now agreed with Kartika being whipped.
She said under hudud law the punishment for drinking alcohol is
40 to 80 lashes of the rotan so Kartika's sentence was close to
the hudud law.
"When the Syariah court passed the sentence I was shocked
not because of the decision but by the boldness of the judge. I
congratulate him for it."
She omitted the fact that the punishment for drinking alcohol
is not mentioned at all in the Quran.
Follow-up: 24 August 2009 - Beer drinking Muslim model asks for public caning (with video clip)
About this website
Country files: Judicial CP in Malaysia
JCP pictures: Malaysia
Archive 2007: Malaysia
Archive 2008: Malaysia
Archive 2009: Malaysia
Topics A to Z: Caning in Malaysia