- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
- All Women's Action Society
- Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
[collectively known as the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG)]
I could not help noticing your memorandum to our Prime Minister dated 25th August 2009 which has elicited a strong response (and a counter memorandum dated 01st October 2009) from several Islamic NGOs. From the stand-point of a disinterested observer to the whole Kartika-beer-caning saga, I would like to point out that I believe your take on the issue is wrong.
Kartika, a Muslim woman, was charged under Section 136 of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Ugama Islam & Adat Resam Melayu Pahang 1982 (En. 8/82) which states that it shall be an offence for a Muslim to drink an alcoholic beverage and if found guilty, shall be punished to a maximum of fine of not more than RM5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 3 years or both and caning of not more than 6 strokes ("… denda tidak lebih daripada lima ribu ringgit atau penjara tidak lebih daripada tiga tahun atau kedua-duanya dan sebat tidak lebih daripada enam kali sebatan").
Kartika pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine of RM5,000.00 and 6 strokes of the rotan. She has paid the fine and is awaiting the sentence of caning.
That should have been the end of it. But against her very wishes to not appeal the conviction nor sentence (also reported at The Star, New Straits Times), you have taken it upon yourselves to speak on her behalf. This I think is unnecessary.
Kartika could have:-
- challenged the charge (or conviction) and ventilated the point that beer is technically not prohibited in Islam, or that she is not subject to the Pahang enactment, or any one of the cogent reasons you cited in your memorandum; or
- challenged the sentence, in that it was excessive
and have the conviction and/or sentence reviewed by the Syariah Appeals Court.
This she did not do. She chose to not appeal at all, even at the encouragement of the Prime Minister (also reported in The Sun, & MySinChew). There has been no allegation that she was forced to plead guilty nor that she was not of sound mind when she made the plea.
Therefore your current efforts to speak for her seems a bit disingenuous. The lady does not want what you want for her (to appeal). She is an adult. She has not appointed you to speak on her behalf. The decent thing to do would be to not press the point further.
I do hope you give due consideration to the above.