Najib speaks out against caning amid international attention
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak today urged Islamic authorities to only enforce physical punishment as the last resort, in a thinly-veiled reference to a Syariah court decision to cane a Muslim woman caught drinking beer.
In his speech at the launch of Women’s Day celebrations here, the Prime Minister said Islam encourages its followers to repent for their past actions.
“Islam is about compassion and mercy, physical punishment should be the last resort,” said Najib, without specifically mentioning the Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno case.
“Most importantly, it presents an opportunity to correct and to redeem oneself. I hope the right people will hear what I said,” he added.
His statement came hours after it was revealed that Pahang Syariah Court of Appeal would revise the decision to cane Kartika.
Earlier, Najib had urged her to appeal against the decision in a sign that the federal government was trying to avoid the punishment from being carried out as the case has attracted international attention and caused embarrassment to the administration.
Kartika was caught drinking beer in a hotel in Najib’s home state of Pahang. The part time model was fined RM5,000 and sentenced to six strokes of the cane.
Yesterday, religious authorities gave a last-minute, temporary reprieve in the case that has stirred passions over the increasingly strict enforcement of Islamic law in recent years.
Kartika was detained by prison authorities yesterday but was then released.
Legal experts have criticised the caning as it could open up the state government to legal action.