Public caning free publicity for Terengganu, Mahfodz tells PAS assembly

KUALA TERENGGANU: The publicity surrounding the caning of two women who pleaded guilty to attempting to have same-sex relations last month in Terengganu is some sort of “free marketing” for the PAS-led state, a top leader said today.

PAS Dewan Ulama chief Mahfodz Mohamed said the caning in the east coast state managed to open the eyes of many people.

“There are those who have praised us and are learning from the beauty of Islam. However, there are those who oppose and dispute it.

“Regardless, it is our job to continue carrying out the works of Islam and to enlighten others on Islam.

“You see, not everyone opposed the caning. There are those who agreed with it. This is what you call free marketing, in that the punishment was carried out in Terengganu, but it became a nationwide discussion,” he said in his speech at the Dewan Ulama convention in conjunction with the 57th Muktamar here today.

Also present were other national and state PAS leaders, along with other party members.

It was previously reported that the women, aged 22 and 32, were caned six times before a panel of judges in the Terengganu shariah court earlier this month, witnessed by the women’s families, representatives from legal bodies and NGOs, and members of the media.

It marked the state’s first shariah court verdict on same-sex relations. Islamic enforcement officers in Terengganu found the two Muslim women attempting to engage in sexual acts in a car during a patrol in April.

They were charged under the shariah law known as musahaqah – which bans lesbian sex – and sentenced to six strokes of the cane and a fine of RM3,300 each after pleading guilty.

The many objections and backlash against the punishment prompted the Terengganu government to come out in defence of it, saying critics should not make assumptions without witnessing the form and method of carrying out the sentence.

Mahfodz went on to say that to guarantee Malaysia’s future, PAS-led states such as Kelantan and Terengganu must be lifted up and become model administrations.

“Let the rakyat see how Islam can lead. Let them evaluate the states governed by PAS and compare them to other states. We are on the threshold of more success, and this should be made known to everyone.

“And when this happens, the people will open their hearts to choose PAS and the existing administration model in both Kelantan and Terengganu,” he said.

He noted that no government was permanent, citing how the political landscape in the country had changed after the 14th general election, with Umno and Barisan Nasional being toppled.

“Similarly, Pakatan Harapan (PH) will not remain. They can be replaced also. The rakyat is different nowadays. They are more vocal now, and it is our job to lead change.

“They managed to succeed with their manifesto and their sweet promises. So, PAS needs to be ready and be at its best, if the rakyat decides to make another change and choose us in future.

“The future of Malaysia is with Islam. This is nothing new,” he added.