Rules on khalwat raids to be revised 16 Nov 2006
PUTRAJAYA: Khalwat raids will be standardised and based on clear guidelines to avoid untoward incidents.
Following a review of the existing guidelines by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) yesterday, it was also decided that only officers certified by either the Religious Council or the Sultan would be authorised to conduct such raids. A Jakim officer told the New Straits Times that a meeting to brief all states on the new guidelines would be held from Nov 23 to 25.The revised guidelines covered all vital aspects including the best way to take down reports and ways of conducting raids.
"The meeting (yesterday) was held to tighten the loose parts of the existing guidelines which had raised a lot of unhappiness and complaints," the officer said.
Under the revised guidelines, certified officers, including imam, will have to attend courses. At present, due to the shortage of religious enforcement officers in the states, civilians are given authority cards which empower them to book Muslim couples suspected of committing khalwat.Now these civilians will only act as witnesses during raids which will be led by an authorised chief enforcement officer.
Prior to a raid, enforcement officers will also need to study each report thoroughly to determine whether the allegations were true.Explaining the procedures when mounting raids, the officer said although enforcement officers need not be escorted by the police, they needed to have warrants before they could enter any premises.
However, if swift action is required, the enforcement officers could forgo the need for a warrant and use their authority cards instead. But they must lodge a police report after the raid.
Members of the public have the right to deny entry to those without authority cards.On the shortage of manpower, the officer said at present, there were only 150 enforcement officers nationwide.These officers had to deal with 40 types of offences apart from khalwat. These include gambling, consumption of alcohol and deviationist teachings involving Muslims.
When contacted, Jakim director general Datuk Mustafa Abdul Rahman urged religious officers to observe the guidelines issued by the department.He noted
that the failure of some officers to abide by the guidelines had caused unwarranted problems."If you get a report that a Muslim couple is committing khalwat but after conducting a raid, you discover that it is not true, apologise," he advised.He said the course for religious enforcement officers would also include legal aspects to enhance their professionalism.He stressed that officers must act responsibly so as not to tarnish the country’s image.
Mustafa was referring to the uproar following a khalwat raid which was mistakenly carried out against an elderly foreign couple in Langkawi by the Kedah Islamic Affairs Department last month. Jakim also reiterated that although Muslim foreigners here were subjected to Islamic laws, there were no plans to include non-Muslims in its enforcement efforts.
Thank You for clarifying this, and showing humility to look into your procedures and making an effort to rectify the loopholes.