Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa said public presence during the caning of a syariah offender such as what happened in Terengganu today must be reconsidered.
“It (the provision) must be looked at, if the public can be present. The two or three officials present can be considered public. To me, it is a matter of technicality and can be debated,” he said.
Mujahid was speaking to reporters after launching the book "Suatu Perjalanan Hidup" (A Life Journey) by Prof Denison Jayasooria at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur today.
He was commenting on the six strokes of the cane sentence imposed on two women by the Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court after they were found guilty of committing same-sex relations in a car in April.
He said the ministry was following the developments of the case and felt that it followed the legal process of the state.
"I understand that they pleaded guilty that they committed the offence for muhasaqah (sexual offence between women). They were given 14 days to appeal and they did not.
Mujahid said he was informed that the punishment was meted out in accordance with Islamic and local laws, so it was a normal legal process which had to be undergone by anyone who committed an offence.
He added anyone who wants to do away with the provision will have to do so according to the state’s laws.
Mujahid said regardless of whether a person is lesbian, gay or not, he will undergo the same legal process after an arrest is made.
He also said he welcomed the decision by the Sultan of Selangor to increase the minimum age for Muslim men and women in the state from 16 to 18 years.
He said the Pakatan Harapan government was happy that Selangor was the first state to agree with the government’s proposal to increase the minimum age.
At the federal government level, Mujahid said the matter was still being studied and discussed by Muslim and legal experts and a draft on this is expected to be released early next year.