This statement is in response to Siti Nuramira Abdullah, who was arrested after she had just settled posting bail at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Jalan Duta as reported in MalaysiaKini: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/628775 (Headline: Jawi arrests woman over controversial stand-up comedy)
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 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 Syariah Criminal Offenses (Federal Territories) Enactment is similar in essence as Section 298A of the Penal Code as both laws are considered blasphemy laws and prohibit any criticism of religion. Although Section 7 of the SCO(FT)E only covers the religion of Islam, but 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 offense must not be the same. It was pointed out by an Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reader that a person may be charged for corruption under 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 offense 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 AG, where in this case there was no double jeopardy because the forum of his two trials are 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 criminal offense 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 AG 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 be channeled 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 but 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.
About Sisters in Islam
Sisters in Islam is a non-governmental organisation working towards advancing the rights of Muslim women in Malaysia within the framework of Islam, universal human rights principles, constitutional guarantees, as well as the lived realities and experiences of women.
About Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
SUARAM is a Malaysia human rights organisation that was founded since the days of Operation Lalang in 1989. For the past 30 years, SUARAM has conducted extensive documentation, monitoring, advocacy and defending human rights issues ranging from police brutality, the abuse of detention without trial laws and freedom of expression. SUARAM is also a member of regional and international organisation including Forum-Asia (as one of the founding member) and Asian Alliance against Torture (A3T).
About Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU Malaysia)
Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU Malaysia) was founded in 2015 by former radicalised youth committed to counter extremism with counter-narratives based on the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) and human rights frameworks.