The Malaysian state of Pahang has convicted an Indonesian Muslim to jail for one year and six strokes of the cane for drinking alcohol.
Nazarudin Kamaruddin was found drinking on August 27, during the month of Ramadan. Although he is an Indonesian citizen, Mr. Kamaruddin is also a permanent resident of Malaysia.
News reports indicate the sentence was handed down by the same judge who presided over the case of the Malaysian woman drinking caned for drinking beer.
Judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohd Yunos needs a restraining order – is there no other judge in the state of Pahang?
Can the federal government please step in and bring judge ARM Yunos under control! Use coercion and blackmail if necessary, we all know Malaysian politics works via backroom deals.
The honourable judge has already tarnished Malaysia's reputation enough.
I was a frequent visitor to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and one of my preferred activities was to enjoy the nightlife. I must admit that the recent news flow has shaken me up a little.
I don't think I will be travelling to KL anytime soon.
Pahang is the largest state in West Malaysia. It contains several spots popular with international tourists, including the hill stations of Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Bukit Tinggi and Cameron Highlands.
The state is struggling with its social identity.
Does the key to understanding Pahang's dilemma lie in the fact that the state capital, Kuantan, is physically close to Terengganu? Perhaps the social links between the PAS ruled (Islamic Kingdom) state of Terengganu is allowing the gradual spread of conservative Islam in Pahang.
A mosque in Kuantan, the administrative capital of the Malaysian state of Pahang
Intuitively one will not expect this to be the case given that Kuantan's population is about 36% Chinese and Tamil. In other words, non-Muslims are a significant number in the state capital. The state's overall population mix is approximately 79:21 with 21% being Chinese / Indians. By contrast, the combined Chinese and Tamil population of Terengganu is 3%.
According to a statement by the Indonesian Embassy in KL, Malaysia's Shariah law applies only to 'locals' (defined as citizens and permanent residents) and not to 'tourists.'
It is fine for an individual with diplomatic immunity to be so casual about the consequences of jail time and caning. As for me, a 'Half-Muslim' tourist, I am unwilling to argue with members of the Malaysian vice brigade about the distinctions between Muslim tourists and Muslim residents.
(Please see 'Singapore's Secularism – Regional Dangers Abound' for another view on the subject.)