Beer Drinking Ex-model in Malayasia Spared Caning
Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol by religious dictum, and in Malaysia the punishment is canning.
Last July ex-model, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was caught by Malaysia’s Morality police for drinking beer at a restaurant on a beach. She pleaded guilty in the court and was sentenced to six strokes of a cane. Following a media outcry and protest by the human rights activists, the punishment was put on hold at the last minute.
Last Wednesday Kartika received a letter from the Pahang state Islamic department bearing the news that the Sultan (ruler of the state) had given her a reprieve from caning and instead she would have to perform three weeks of community service. A relieved Kartika said that she would start her service at a children’s home on Friday.
Three other Muslim women were quietly caned earlier this year for having sex out of wedlock. Later, the women appeared before a local media and stated that they deserved the punishment.
It was not obvious what prompted Sultan Ahmad Shah to commute the sentence for Kartika, but his change of heart might have been caused by the wide negative publicity the country had received after Shukarno’s caning sentence. There was wide condemnation and accusation that the conservative Islamists were gaining influence over the legal system of the country, and was damaging Malaysia’s reputation as a model of a moderate and progressive Islamic society.
To be fair, only three states out of Malaysia’s 13 states — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan, prescribe caning for alcohol drinking, the other 10 exacts fine from the offenders. Non-Muslims are allowed to drink in all 13 states.
The message is clear though: in Malaysia, if you are a Muslim do not drink alcohol unless you are an ex-model.