Sisters in Islam (SIS), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU Malaysia) raise serious concerns about the arrest of Siti Nuramira, the woman who made a statement in her act at Crackhouse Comedy Club in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, by eight enforcement officers of the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) who waited for her at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Jalan Duta.
The arrest felt more like a witch hunt, given that the arrest happened as soon as she was just released on bail for her charge under Section 298A of the Penal Code.
There is a risk of double jeopardy should Jawi proceed with charging Siti Nuramira under Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Enactment.
It is SIS’ position that Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offenses (Federal Territories) Enactment is similar in essence to Section 298A of the Penal Code, as both laws are considered blasphemy laws and prohibit any criticism of religion. Although Section 7 of the enactment only covers the religion of Islam, it still covers religion as per Section 298A.
In Jumali Adnan v PP (1986), the court had stated that any charges made against the accused must be distinct and different. The ingredient of the offence must not be the same.
It was pointed out by a Free Malaysia Today reader that a person may be charged for corruption under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and for money laundering under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which reiterates our stance and proves that the two charges were different, as it was mentioned that one was for corruption and the other for money laundering.
Spencer Wilkins J in PP v Viran stated that “where the law provides, either in the same or different enactments, for different penalties for the same offence that both or all of the provisions as to punishments are intended to stand side by side and that it is left to the proper authorities to decide under which of the different provisions the offender shall be prosecuted and punished”. Hence, there should not be a duplicity of charges brought against a person.
An argument has been made of the usage of Mohd Yusoff Samadi v Attorney general, where in this case there was no double jeopardy because the forum of his two trials was different in nature: one was in the criminal court for criminal charges, and the other in an employment tribunal, a civil matter for dismissal for bringing disrepute to the reputation of the company. It differs from Siti Amira’s because both her charges are of criminal nature and she is being tried for a criminal offence under both laws.
We would also like to point out that the charges under the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment and under the Penal Code are taken by the same federal government as both Jawi and the Attorney General’s Chambers are under the purview of the federal government. This begs the question of coordination between the two federal-run departments.
We further reiterate that this is a waste of taxpayers’ money, as both agencies are run by the federal government, which has the authority to collect taxes from all taxpayers around the nation and to be channelled to these two agencies.
The show of force by Jawi is also excessive, having eight enforcement officers to arrest a nonviolent person for a nonviolent crime. Some of our politicians whose crimes affect the nation as a whole did not receive such attention and were not arrested by eight officers.
Jawi should channel this manpower towards other areas that require more urgent attention, affecting communities in difficult and dire financial and non-financial circumstances, particularly the enforcement of nafkah (maintenance) payment to children. – SIS, Suaram, KMU Malaysia