April 21, 2002

Malaysia eyes public flogging for sex crime

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Reuters) -- Faced with a sharp rise in sex crimes, mostly Muslim Malaysia plans to publicly flog those found guilty of incest and rape, a newspaper report says.
The prime minister's office and the attorney-general's department were expected to seek quick cabinet approval for the move, according to Malaysia's New Sunday Times.
"I will push as soon as possible the paper for consideration and very likely, it will be done next month," Rais Yatim, minister for legal affairs in the prime minister's office, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Currently, sexual intercourse between people who can't marry by law, religion or custom is punishable by whipping, but public flogging is not allowed.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said recently he could not understand why the incidence of sexual offences was high among Malaysia's native Malays, who are Muslim, and make for more than half of the 22 million population.
Mahathir's remarks came as a girl reported to police that she had been raped for several years by her grandfather, father and brother.
The New Sunday Times said 71.2 percent of incest victims last year were Malay children.
The jail term for incest is a minimum six years or a maximum 20 years.
Rape carries a sentence of at least five years.

April 20, 2002

Report: Malaysia to Ban Bikinis

The Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia The fundamentalist Muslim government in a Malaysian state will ban women from wearing bikinis and from sharing swimming pools with men, a news report said Saturday.
Hotels in the eastern state of Terengganu have been directed to build separate swimming pools for men and women, the Star newspaper quoted state tourism minister Wan Hassan Mohamad Ramli as saying.
"We decided, in the interest of Muslims, to separate the two sexes when it comes to swimming pools," the paper quoted Wan Hassan as saying.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic party, Malaysia's main opposition group, was swept into power in Terengganu in the 1999 elections and pledged to tighten Islamic laws in the oil-rich state. It has since imposed other strict rules, including the separation of men and women lining up at cash registers in supermarkets.
Wan Hassan also said a dress code would be imposed at holiday resorts, barring bikinis and ordering women to dress "in accordance with local cultural norms." He did not elaborate or say when the new dress code would be imposed.

Monday 29th April 2002

Bikini ban hits Malaysian tourism industry

Tourism in Malaysia has started dropping off after one state banned holidaymakers from wearing bikinis.
The Terengganu state government also segregates men from women at swimming pools and in hotels.
Malaysia's tourism minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir says he is disappointed over the decision by the Islamic state government.
He revealed many European tourists had cancelled trips to Malaysia because of the announcement.
He told the New Straits Times: "Yesterday, I received a fax from a Malaysian tourism officer overseas who said many tour agents have been asking if it was appropriate to send tourists to Malaysia because of this.
"Whether they want to swim with their husbands or wives or want to wear bikinis or just enjoy under the sun on the beach, they have the right to do so. We cannot force them to follow the way we think."
Since the Muslim opposition party took over in Terengganu, it has banned karaoke outlets, pubs, unisex hair salons and gaming outlets.