Sultan calls for clearer picture of Syariah law
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam urged the relevant agencies to give a clearer picture of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 to avoid public confusion.

In a titah at a special meeting with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) yesterday at Istana Nurul Iman, the monarch said confusion could lead to many types of feedbacks, including hatred, dissatisfaction and fear among the public. There should also be a monitoring team to tackle any problems and doubts raised by the public regarding the Order.

On the implementation of the Order, His Majesty said, “All must be wise, especially the relevant agencies. Otherwise we would be seen as inefficient in handling (the Order) or making many mistakes or having deficiencies.

“This is obvious during the briefings by the speakers (on the Order). Matters that are not touched by the Order were raised and dragged on such as issues relating to clothing. So many matters were raised pertaining to covering of the aurat and so on, whereas the Order does not mention clothing and what is mentioned (in the Order) is indecent behaviour.

“Why let the public create a buzz on clothing?” His Majesty asked.

“It would be better for the speakers (in the briefings) to give a clearer picture by giving a comparison such as a person who is wandering the streets wearing ‘hot pants’ and a person wearing ‘Baju Kurung’ without a headscarf (Tudong).

“Between these two, which one is considered as indecent behaviour? Possibly by answering this question, one would understand and would not raise matters relating to clothing.”

His Majesty highlighted another issue raised in the media that non-Muslims are prohibited from using 19 words such as Masjid (mosque), Azan (call for prayer), Baitullah, Al-Quran, decree (Fatwa), Firman, Hadith, Haji (Haj), Hukum Syara’, Ilahi, Ka’abah, Kalimah Al-syahadah, Kiblat, Imam (prayer leader), Mufti, Mu’min (pious), Solat (prayer) and Wali. Fines of up to $4,000 or one year imprisonment for using these words would be imposed.

“Is it an offence for non-Muslims to say these 19 words? Is it wrong for non-Muslims to say ‘I would like to visit the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque’ or ‘I would like to meet the State Mufti’?

“I would like the Minister of Religious Affairs to explain (this matter).

“If what the media say is correct, where is the clarification from our side? Where is the Ministry of Religious Affairs? Where is MUIB … the Islamic Legal Unit? And where is the committee responsible for the dissemination (of information on the Order)?

“If we say that the media release is not correct, then what is right? We should tell the public what is right to avoid confusion.

“People who get confused would give many types of feedbacks, (including) hatred, dissatisfaction or fear (among the public). We should take quick steps and rectify what has gone wrong.”

His Majesty added there are many ways to correct this issue such as by making media statements on the radio or television. We should explain it (the Order) clearly until people understand it and not to wait until the ‘Dissemination Council’ convenes.

“If they (Dissemination Council) convenes in two weeks, would it mean that we have to wait for another two weeks to correct this (issue)?

“There are mistakes, confusion or shortfalls portrayed in the media. The relevant agencies should respond swiftly and we should have a monitoring team who should meet and discuss the matter and not delay in responding to it (issue).

“We should not take it for granted when the media described it (the Order) incorrectly. We must show them the right way.” - Borneo Bulletin (6 May 2014)