Our raid made difficult by Siti Kasim’s behaviour, Jawi officer tells court

Siti Kasim, seen in this file picture confronting Jawi officers raiding a beauty contest in 2016.

KUALA LUMPUR: Vocal lawyer Siti Kasim behaved aggressively with officers from the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) during a raid on a transgender beauty contest two years ago, a Jawi officer told the magistrate’s court today.

Akmal Nadzim Abdullah, an assistant director at Jawi’s enforcement division, said Siti Kasim was provocative when she confronted religious officers during the raid.

“With a very loud voice, she shouted and questioned about the warrant, and also whether we had the powers to raid,” he said.

He said Siti Kasim had riled up those who were present, with many cheering in support of her.

“I had again stressed then that the raid that night did not require a warrant,” Akmal told the court during the trial of Siti Kasim, who is charged with obstructing Jawi officer Nor Jihan Saleh from discharging her duties during a raid on a transgender fashion show on Apr 3, 2016.

The court today also played a video which had gone viral showing Siti Kasim confronting Jawi officers.

Akmal said due to her behaviour, his officers were not able to carry out their duties, adding that Jawi would usually get full cooperation during raids.

“But in this case, as a result of the accused’s behaviour, aggressively provoking and fighting back in a serious manner, it resulted in those present not listening to the instructions of the officers,” he said, adding that a lot of time was wasted on addressing her questions.

Akmal said from the very beginning, he had explained that the raid was being conducted under Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories Act) 1997 for breaching a fatwa banning Muslims from taking part in beauty pageants.

Akmal said officers had been briefed to first observe to determine whether there were Muslims in the contest.

He said that when addressing Siti’s questions, many around them had heard their conversation and was subsequently made aware of the presence of religious enforcement officers.

“They then got up from their tables and tried to move to the front, where the stage was, and headed to the exit behind the stage.

“In a prior briefing, the officers had been instructed to guard the different exits to prevent anyone within the ballroom from going out. It is a normal SOP (standard operating procedure),” he said.

Jawi enforcement officers, Akmal said, then told guests to return to their seats, and informed them that checks would be carried out.

He said the situation was chaotic, adding that many were trying to get out of the hall but were not able to do so as Jawi officers were standing guard at the exits.

“Eventually they sat down, but the situation was still chaotic, compounded by the act of the accused who was shouting, screaming, scolding with a very loud voice, what powers the officers had to carry out the inspection.

“I still remember, the accused shouting and asking for a warrant. I personally explained many times on the purpose of the inspection, and informed her that officers did not need a warrant for a seizable offence (kesalahan boleh tangkap),” he said.

Akmal told the court that Jawi’s raid was focused on the contestants of the beauty pageant, by checking their identification cards to determine their religious status, as well as their role and involvement in the contest.

“After that was done, further checks would then be carried out only on those who are Muslims.

“Normally, in other operations, those who are non-Muslims will be allowed to leave the hall after it has been ascertained that they are not Muslims,” he added.

The hearing continues on Nov 7 and 21 before magistrate Maizatul Munirah Abd Rahman.