Earlier this week, the Terengganu Religious Affairs Department (JHEAT) became the talk of the town after arresting 26 unmarried Muslim couples in the state for riding on motorcycles together. The couples, aged between 16 and 42, were arrested under Ops Bonceng for conducting “immoral act in public”, which included hugging, leaning against each other and putting their hands into their partner’s pockets. In other words, keep your hands to yourselves or face the consequences.
Image: Free Malaysia Today
JHEAT Commissioner Datuk Wan Mohd Wan Ibrahim said the department will do whatever it takes to prevent unmarried Muslim couples committing such acts because they are against the teachings of Islam. There will be a team of enforcement officers who will observe these couples on bikes and inform officers in-charge at roadblocks if they spot anything suspicious. Cameras will not be necessary in this case as eyewitness testimony alone is sufficient as evidence in court.
This regulation may also be extended to those sitting indecently in cars. However, implementing the Ops Bonceng operation on couples in cars may be different because the officers won’t be able to actually see what happens in the vehicles – unlike riding motorcycles, where it is obvious that couples sit closely together.
A Muslim found acting indecently and inappropriately can be charged under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Ta’zir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001. Muslim women in the state have also been reminded to dress appropriately, and not to wear body-hugging clothes and tight-fitting jeans that can show off parts of the body or figure. According to Wan Mohd, the state’s religious authorities are trying to prevent indecent acts that could lead to illegal intercourse and having children out of wedlock. “Prevention is better than cure,” he added.