PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The remarks by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa on khalwat (close proximity between unmarried couples) raids must be seen in a larger context, says PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim.
He said the minister was merely referring to how enforcement should be carried out.
"He did not encourage khalwat. He was only talking about the legal action. We do not encourage it (khalwat). Vice is vice," he told reporters at Padang Merdeka in Sri Tanjung, Port Dickson, on Sunday (Oct 7).
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the issue of Datuk Mujahid supporting sinful acts via his statement was untrue.
Mr Mohamed Hanipa agreed with the views of Penang Mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor.
Datuk Seri Wan Salim had said that Dr Mujahid could have made his statement to ensure that khalwat offenders would not be publicly shamed during raids.
In an interview with The Star published last Saturday, Dr Mujahid said he would advise enforcement officers not to interfere with the personal sphere of the public.
On Sunday, Dr Mujahid said his remarks were taken out of context, and denied saying that he wanted a stop to night khalwat raids.
"I have never asked that 'knocks on the door in the middle of the night' be stopped," he told a TV station.
He asked the people to read the full interview in the newspaper.
Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) director Mohd Ajib Ismail said the department is open to reviewing its standard operating procedures (SOP) on enforcement activities against syariah-related offences, which are carried out in accordance to the law.
"If there is any weakness, the SOP will be reviewed from time to time to ensure its effectiveness, with added improvements if deemed necessary," he said in a statement.
He added that Jawi's work is about prevention of vice and to educate Muslims not to commit offences under syariah law.
"Enforcement will only be carried out as a last resort to prevent further spread of vice activities," he said.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the federal government must respect the jurisdiction of the state government under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
"The government's duty is to encourage good and prevent evil," he said.