UPDATED AGAIN: 5 April 2016 by Chak Onn Lau. With the case of Siti Kasim.
UPDATED AGAIN: 13 June 2014 by Chak Onn Lau. Added JAIPP and JHEAINS. We might soon have to change the poster to 10 things I hate about you 😉
Being raided by religious organisations seems to be all the rage these days, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the most outrageous ones. Just to be clear, this poster was PHOTOSHOPPED because of er… scheduling problems with JAIS Deputy Director-General Ustaz Ahmad Zaki Arshad and JAIS Director Marzuki Hussin. As you can see from the screenshot below, JAIS seems to be the most… sociable one out of the three governing bodies.
Before we start the list, let’s talk about the JJJ (which is only one letter away from the famous American pillowcase brand).
- JAIS governs over Selangor (confusingly enough the Sarawak version is also called JAIS)
- JAWI governs over Wilayah Persekutuan and…
- JAKIM functions as a central big brother unit that oversees everything.
And the two newcomers…
- JAIPP does the same thing for Penang, and
- JHEAINS does it for Negeri Sembilan. (confusingly enough the Sabah version is also called JHEAINS)
Also, to make this countdown more scientific, we created….the Sorry-Ah-Meter – a 100% Halal system to rank how apologetic the authorities were based on their response after the event. From 1 being not sorry at all to 5 being the most regrettable. So without further ado, the countdown from the lowest Sorry-Ah-Meter score to the surprisingly highest.
10. The Muslim trading company (?) and the baby shower
Apart from random makan places and bookstores, the JJJ have an arch nemesis, the Shia sect. For those who are checking their Star Wars encyclopaedia now, here’s a rundown; Sunni is the official Islam in Malaysia and it has outlawed the Shia sect as deviant because they believe that Ali (prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin) is Muhammad’s successor.
Just to clear this up, the Shia muslims aren’t like Satanists or anything. In fact, Shias are perfectly legal in the States, where they hold the largest mosque in the US. The politics of the situation, however, are a story for another day.
Since they were outlawed, Shia followers were forced underground, fronting themselves as a trading company in Gombak. However, the top investigators at JAIS must’ve spotted the signboard that said “Premis ini untuk penganut syiah sahaja”. So of course, the shophouse was raided by JAIS in September 2013 for defying the lawful orders of the mufti and spreading false doctrine, with again books, and posters seized, and most likely destroyed.
Meanwhile JJJ’s other cousin from Perak, the Perak Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAIP), also wanted in on the action arresting 114 Shia Muslims while they were attending a celebration to commemorate the birth of Siti Zainab, daughter of Islam’s fourth caliph Ali. The Malaysian Insider reported that women and children were among those arrested
This one doesn’t even register on the Meter because its an ongoing raid. As recently as 2013, UMNO party vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi launched an anti-Shia campaign, asking Malaysian Muslims not to fall prey. A year later this campaign backfired when Iran (89% Shia) started boycotting Malaysian goods. “Since the anti-Shia campaign in Malaysia last year, Iranian businessmen refused to buy Malaysian-made products,” said Azizi Ahmad, Executive Director Malaysian Iranian Corporation. The Malaysian Insider stated that the boycott has left rubber products worth some RM2 million lying in a warehouse in the Middle East.
“The biggest loser is Petronas whose oil exploration in Iran has been met with hurdles from the Iranian government, while at the same time, American firms such as Esso and Conoco are making their way into the country,” – Dr Syed Azman Ahmad Nawawi, Head of PAS’s International Bureau.
9. The Malay Wedding
Gate Crasher: Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam Negeri Sembilan (JHEAINS)
Gate Owner: The bride and groom’s family
This is hot off the press, JHEAINS just raided a Malay wedding because there were transgender guests. Yes you read that right. 17 trans women were arrested under Section 66 of the state’s Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992, which says its an offence for men to dress as women. But this law is currently under constitutional review in the Court of Appeal, meaning its not really a huge offence lah, like making public racists remarks, still got chance to lepas.
“The family members who organised the event, they lodged a police report against the Negri Sembilan religious authorities for the raid, because it happened on their private property,” said Nisha Ayub, transgender activist.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 0/5
The police did not act on the report as they said the event was held in a public space instead of a private property, contrary to the family’s claim. When asked by The Malay Mail Online, JHEAINS’ Operations Chief Ahmad Zaki Hamzah said he was ordered to not comment on the raid. So the ZERO score applies to both the POPO and the JJJ.
What’s worse is that the detainees, all first-time offenders, were not given proper counsel and automatically pleaded guilty. Transgender rights group Justice for Sisters (JFS) claimed that the women were pressured into giving up their appeal for reduced sentences after the judge, Justice Jamil Ahmad demanded that the women bring both their parents in order for them to be bailed.
The saddest thing is that these women did not want their family involved because they have not been ‘open’ about their lifestyle. They were forced out of the closet and into a jail cell as they chose to spend their remaining sentencing in a men’s prison rather than have their parents come to court.
8. The charity dinner organised by the trans community
- Image from New Straits Times
This most recent of updates is the first run-in with JAWI in 2016 as far as we can tell. A bunch of transgender people were holding a fund-raising night, and part of that was a mock beauty pageant, where various attendants pretended to represent various countries.
“At around 10ish suddenly I saw a group of JAWI enforcement people standing around at the back of the room without any police presence but with the media tagging along.” – Siti Kasim, lawyer and attendee
According to Siti Kasim’s account, the JAWI officers then locked down the room, trapping all attendants inside. She proceeded to ask them for a warrant, which they could not produce (they actually need police backup to arrest people). Eventually the police did come (cos Siti Kasim called them), but they didn’t know why they were there so they left shortly after. That didn’t stop JAWI from loading up Siti together with a bunch of guests in their van to go back to Dang Wangi police station tho…
“Eventually both of us were taken into the JAWI van and whilst walking to the van, one of the JAWI woman officer was pushing me from the back and I told her if she touched me again, I will sue the pants of her. She got irate and threatened to handcuffed me. I showed my hands and told her to go ahead but then they backed off.” – Siti Kasim
At Dang Wangi, both JAWI and the organisers of the event lodged reports against each other. Eventually, they took one attendant back to JAWI for questioning, but let the rest loose.
Sorry-Ah-Meter: 0.000001 /5
“When asked by my lawyer, Shashi Devan whether I am arrested, the JAWI officer got bees in his pants and shouted NO!” – Siti Kasim
That was the closest they got to a rather rude apology. According to Siti, the raid was on grounds that the so-called beauty contest involving trans women violated a 1996 fatwa that prohibits Muslim women from joining beauty pageants. However, Siti contends that it was not an official public event, merely a show during a private dinner. More on this to come soon!
7. The Thanksgiving Dinner
Gate Crasher: JAIS
Gate Owner: Damansara Utama Methodist Church
In August 2011, the Damansara Utama Methodist Church held a thanksgiving dinner for non-governmental organisation called Harapan Komuniti, an NGO that provides disaster relief and helps single mothers, children, and AIDS patients regardless of race. Midway through the second helping of ayam rendang, around 30 JAIS and police officers entered the premise without warrants. According to The Malaysian Insider, claiming Muslims were being “proselytised”.
Yes we had to Google that word too, it basically means to convert someone out of their faith.
“We carried out the raid after receiving information that there were Muslims who attended a breaking-of-fast event at the church” – Datuk Dr. Hasan Ali, Selangor State Executive Community.
If men and women of different races can’t sit down and makan without being accused of having ulterior motives then a bit susah lah like that… why can’t we all just follow our leader in the pic above, hanging out with someone of different beliefs and nationality. Which leader you ask? We’ll leave that up to you.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 0.03/5
If you’ve lived in Malaysia long enough, you’ll know that from time to time, certain religious establishments may receive visits from… certain authority figures to… errm.. make sure everything is in place. But for a thanksgiving dinner to be raided, that’s on a whole new level. How apologetic were they about their actions? Apparently not cause they went on to gate crash more events. When asked by The Star if JAIS Director Marzuki Hussin would apologise, he remained hesitant and repeated “No, the investigation is still not completed,” and then hung up.
6. The Banana Leaf Restaurant
Gate Crasher: JAKIM & JAWI
Gate Owner: Restoran Aiswaria
Before this, the only risk of eating banana leaf rice was heartburn and the bathroom fireworks the day after. In 2007, a Muslim owned restaurant was raided by almost 20 JAWI and JAKIM officers on the pretext of checking the Halal-ness of the eatery. After finding out that it had no official Halal documentation, the officials proceeded to take down Quranic verses and a framed picture of the Kaabah from the restaurant’s walls, claiming it was “misleading”. Malaysiakini mentions that the officers filed a report stating that the restaurant had committed several offences, including not having Halal certification, displaying Quranic verses not “certified” by JAWI, and not hiring Muslim workers. But there were 7 Muslim workers out of a total of 12, including the owner Mohammed Dhasthasir himself.
“I told them I was Muslim, and I signed the report with my full name!” said an indignant (owner) Dhasthasir. “My name is Mohammed, how could they not know my religion?”- Malaysiakini
According to an eyewitness account here and here, the officers went around inspecting meat and taking pictures of the food. The shop produced a Halal cert from their meat suppliers but it was taken by the officers. They were also questioned on why the shop had pictures of Hindu gods, “because otherwise, Muslims cannot come into their shops” the officer supposedly said. Does this mean Muslims can’t get treatment in a hospital because of the giant cross in the logo? Insult added to injury, the authorities also raided 3 other shops along Bangsar and caused a traffic jam by double-parking their vans along narrow roads.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 0.057/5
Who knows? We couldn’t find a single statement from JAWI. Benefit of the doubt, maybe one of the dudes felt a tinge of remorse as he stole a non-halal certified curry puff. Even the confiscated paintings weren’t returned. Ok, so not a big loss since it’s only a 5.7/10 on Foursquare but still…
5. The Book Store
Gate Crasher: JAWI
Gate Owner: Berjaya Group
Raiding a well-known, family friendly public bookstore in a mall is like the biggest PR no-no ever! Especially if the book you’re confiscating is not even banned yet. The book by Irshad Manji titled ‘Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta‘ was deemed controversial by the religious authorities. Double-especially if the store owner is the Berjaya Group. Triple-especially if you did not get an official fatwa (order) to raid. Why not arrest some employees as well and persecute them in court. Oh wait, they did. We’re glad the High Court decided to rule in favour of the bookworms as reported by The Malaysian Insider and we hope this becomes a case study for any future… visits by religious authorities.
“That’s why the judge says even if you say it (the book) is against the precepts of Islam, people must know about it first. The public must know what is right and what is wrong.” – Rosli Dahlan, lead counsel for Berjaya Books.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 0.8/5
Once again, there were no quotes we could find from JAWI about this case. Which is amazing… you raid an international chain of bookstores and you don’t need to tell people why? Well, at least they didn’t steal paintings this time.
Speaking about her frustration over the rough and aggressive treatment by JAWI officers, Nik Raina said “Because this is done by JAWI people who are supposed to show to people that you are a body to protect Muslims, to show the world that ‘we are Muslim, we treat people like this. But at the end, turn out the other way. That really made me frustrated about JAWI,” If a major bookstore chain in a prominent mall can be easily raided without any orders, it makes one wonder what else can be raided.
4. The Book Club
Gate Crasher: JAIS
Gate Owner: The Bible Society of Malaysia
In early 2014, the Bible Society of Malaysia received unexpected visitors in the form of over 20 JAIS and police officers. 321 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban were seized and probably recycled to wrap nasi lemak (after which they probably raided the nasi lemak store to maximise ROI). The raid was due to the usage of a certain word that non-Muslims can’t use, according to the Selangor Enactment 1988. The Star reported that society chairman Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong were to “accompany them to the Damansara Utama police station to give a statement”.
“At 4.30pm, Lee and Bible Society of Malaysia office manager Sinclair Wong were released on bail after giving their statements to police at the Damansara police station.” – The Star
Bailed? Why do you need to bail someone who was invited to just give a statement? Was this raid legal? No says lawyer Edmund Bon. “The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 failed to spell out powers for “authorised” officers to search premises and seize items” he said.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 1/5
Well, apparently they wanted to be more polite about it, but “forgot” to inform the Selangor government about the raid. It’s like “Selamat pagi Dato how are your children oh by the way we forgot to tell you we raided a Bible society so how was your son’s Hari Kantin?“. Even after other government officials like Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman condemned the act, there was no official apology from JAIS and after months of chilling, the incident is still not concluded.
“Based on Jais’s inaction over the last three months, there seems to be a better chance of MH370 being found before Jais completed its investigations,”said society president Lee Min Choon. In fact, just to be safe, he moved his entire church to KL – maybe he thinks big brother JAWI will be more mature.
3. The Funeral
Gate Crasher: JAIPP
Gate Owner: Family of the deceased Teoh Cheng Cheng
This is the latest addition to our list and if it keeps growing then someone needs to put a leash on these fellas (perhaps things might slow down when World Cup starts). The Jabatan Agama Islam Pulau Pinang (JAIPP) has just crashed a Chinese funeral procession with the help of the police, claiming that the deceased, Teoh Cheng Cheng, was in fact a Muslim convert named Nora Teoh Abdullah. The Star reported that she converted 17 years ago when she was dating a Muslim man. Unaware of her conversion, her shocked family questioned authorities on why did they wait so long to take action if they knew she was a convert, plus her MyKad did not state that she was Muslim. After hours of discussing, the family allowed JAIPP to take the body to a mortuary while investigation was going on.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 1.2/5
We’re not really sure if JAIPP apologised to the family as there were no public statements but state religious exco Datuk Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim said the matter has been resolved amicably but there were no details given on how it was solved and whether they apologised for crashing the ceremony. “Proof showing that the deceased was a Muslim was presented to the family and they have accepted it. They allowed the department to take the body for burial according to Muslim rites. Everything has been amicably settled,” he told The Malaysian Insider. We gave them 1.2 points for un-burdening her family by conducting the burial for them, but still it’s no excuse for crashing a funeral.
Update: The Penang Syariah High Court has just ruled that deceased Teoh Cheng Cheng, is not a Muslim. The court also ordered that the body, that was taken away by JAIPP, will be handed back to her family. The Rakyat Post reported that Syariah High Court judge Zaim Md Yudin decided that the deceased had never embraced Islam as her conversion certificates contained discrepancies in the dates and did not carry the conversion officers’ signatures. He also noted that the certificates were not signed by her. As far as we know, this was the end of the story
2. The Wedding
Gate Crasher: JAIS
Gate Owner: Zarena & family
We’ve heard of runaway brides but never a run-after-the-bride. Unless you’ve only been reading backdated news off the paper lama lori, you would have heard that a Hindu wedding was gate-crashed earlier this week by over 10 JAIS and police officers, acting on a tip-off that the bride was a Muslim. The bride claimed that she and her siblings were secretly converted by her Muslim convert father when they were children, but they have long been practising Hindus since their father divorced their mother and abandoned the family over 20 years ago. The Rakyat Post mentioned that the official status of this case is still in the works, as religious authorities and other parties are trying to reach a decision.
“For Jais it was not a raid. For the press it was. For us, it’s an embarrassment,” – Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Selangor Menteri Besar.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 1.5/5
JAIS Deputy Director-General Ustaz Ahmad Zaki Arshad said that this was not a raid but a mere check, “For example, if Rafael Nadal comes to Malaysia and goes to a church, we have to investigate because he has a Muslim name. So please do not jump to conclusions“. This is a rare occasion where we are lost for words.
When asked by the media if JAIS had apologised, Abdul Khalid said that they had “discussed the subject, but it was an internal statement”. We’re not sure how the authorities saw the urgency to disrupt a wedding ceremony and embarrass family members when they could have just come a knocking the next day. On second thought, raiding their honeymoon would have been worse. Bonus half point for JAIS offering to help Zarena Abdul Majid to change her religious status and name.
1. The Hotel Pub
Back in 2009 JAIS was reacting to a complaint that Muslims were consuming alcohol at The Pub at the Holiday Villa in Glenmarie. First off, assuming only Muslims would rat each other out, wouldn’t said rat have to be in the pub to complain about it? Anyways, no choice… raid lor – this time with 15 personnel who apparently came in and started yelling at everyone.
55 were served with notices to present themselves at the Jais office in 10 days or face up to two months imprisonment or a RM3,000 fine. K.Selvaraj, who manages the pub’s resident band NRG (the nice, wholesome looking, but slightly 80s looking dudes in the picture above) said the notice did not state the offence they are being hauled up for. “I understand if Jais wants to apprehend Muslims for consuming alcohol as they may have the authority to do so but my band members do not drink alcohol,” he said, adding that he intends to sue Jais for insulting, causing embarrassment and treating his band members like criminals.
“Of the 55 patrons served with summonses, seven have been charged in court for consuming alcohol. They are currently receiving counselling from us,” said JAIS assistant public relations director Mohd Hidayat Abd Rani.
WAIT. They have a PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR!? And he has… AN ASSISTANT!? Oh boy… I can’t imagine there’s a long queue for those jobs.
Sorry-Ah-Meter = 5/5
SURPRISE NUMBER TWO. Not covered by mainstream media, JAIS offered…
…after the counselling session in Shah Alam and the band members accepted it readily. The blog quotes that “the group said they were relieved that the matter had been resolved and that they now understand that JAIS was only doing its job.”
Now sure, it’s hardly a credible source, but who would want to make this story up on a blog that apparently no one (except maybe the band while Googling themselves) has read before? NRG band leader Jasminor Jamil said: “It’s all right now. We are happy that the case is over and we understand that Jais was only carrying out its duties.“They apologised for stopping our performance and we are happy that this matter has come to an end.”
Well, all’s well that ends well, as we say. Except that chronologically, this was the second earliest story of the 7. Which means that this battle is still raging, and if anything… escalating. By the lack of comment from the government, the JJJ are if anything feeling emboldened by their successes. And what about for the rest of us? We shall refrain from commenting from a religious POV but from an economic view, this feud seems to be affecting the nation’s biznez. If not from wedding tourism, then from hotels. If not from hotels, then oil and books. If not from that, chocolate sales.
So, what’s next?