Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Had this interesting conversation with a friend yesterday while having lunch. We were talking about Islam, islamic state and so on. He was of the opinion that many are not aware of the Syariah laws existing in Malaysia. I guess that includes me.

To illustrate his point, he gave some examples of Khalwat (close proximity) cases. For those who didn't know, Khalwat is when a non-muhrim (Muhrim = married or relative) people of opposite gender are in isolation (I guess that means behind closed doors) together. It is a legal offence and MUSLIMS (including foreigners) can be charged in the Malaysian Syariah court. However, this law does not apply to non-Muslims.

For more info you can go to this page on the Women's Aid Organization website.

It was interesting because a lady working in our organization was caught with a guy in a hotel in Alor Setar. The funny thing is that I never believed it when I heard the rumours . She was soft spoken, wore a tudung and was well educated. I guess it was bad luck, because I know of several people who were never caught. While I was in KL, few of my neighbors in the Condo I lived in were definitely not married but living-in together but were never caught. I guess they were lucky. According to my friend, they were stupid. They should have stayed in a five star hotel in Penang or KL. According to him, the religious officials rarely raid five star hotels and people don’t give a damn in these cities.

You can be charged even if you are not doing anything of a sexual nature with the other person - the very act of being in close proximity means trouble. We hear of such cases almost everyday, including some high profile cases. Of course, some were caught "IN ACTION" and they have no excuse. However, I feel it is not fair when people who were not doing anything were caught only because they were alone together.

A few things I learnt from this whole discussion:

- You are safe unless someone (my friend used the term busybody but others might disagree) makes a complaint or unless religious officials catch you in action during their regular rounds.
- You should leave the door open so that neighbors can see that you are not doing anything naughty, when with a person of opposite gender fulfilling the criteria above * (not really sure about this as more nosy neighbours can see you and fuel the gossip mills).
- Spending more time than necessary in your car in the car park is not OK. No amount of “we were just talking” is going to help. Because you will only get “Ya, right!”.
- Even if you didn’t do anything wrong and you were “caught”, you are guilty in a lot of people's eyes including those did do something but were not caught.
- Having more than two people in a room in isolation is not OK if there is only one lady in the group.
- Being alone with your gay friend (of opposite gender) is still not OK.
- Even if you are married and with your spouse, keep your marriage certificate/card.

Some strange scenarios where disaster can strike:

1. You are alone and happen to take a taxi with a lady driver.
2. You are on your way to an open house. You have picked up a lady friend/acquaintance and now in front of another friend’s house, who is still getting ready/ in the toilet/ went in to pick up something.
3. You are a lecturer and you are alone in the room with a female student.
4. You have to finish balancing your accounts and your secretary stays back to help you.
5. You met this girls, took her out for a drink. When you return home, it starts to rain and you don’t have an umbrella in your car. So you wait in the car for the rain to stop.
6. You give a lift to a lady co-worker whose car/bike broke down.
7. You give a lift to a lady whose car/bike broke down on the highway at night.

Can you think of some more scenarios. In the end, I guess it is better to be safe than sorry.


Anonymous said...

those you mentioned are good excuses to give when caught

Anonymous said...

if you are not a Muslim why on earth should we bother about this crap. Malaysian law is based on English law which means one has right to appeal and the authorities are accountable. Anyone in trouble with access to a journalist would be able to do enough to shameface this thoughtless act of control. All this law does is give power to busybodies and perverts who have no lives of their own to be proud of. It doesn`t decrease the amount of domestice violence or public disorder offences against women so what IS the point? If it were simply another silly annoyance one gets in this country so be it but in fact this law is quite pernicious in that it can be used as prejudice against people who know that the meaning of life is to show love and not live in fear. I had a security guard on my estate threaten to call the police as I was hugging my Christian girlfriend the other night. He now has no job as he had no work permit. If he was encouraged to assert the name of law he got what all ignorant busybodies who have no theological understanding deserve. A lesson.


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