BRUNEI is set to introduce a dress code for both Muslims and non-Muslims as the government prepares to usher in the Syariah Penal Code Order on Tuesday.
The much-anticipated guideline will determine what constitutes as wearing indecent clothing, a crime punishable under Section 197 of the new law. “Insya’Allah, we will have a dress code in place,” said Hj Hardifadillah Hj Mohd Salleh, a special grade officer of Syariah law, during a briefing yesterday.
However, authorities are keeping mum on the finer details of the dress code and whether it will be drawn up in time for the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order on April 22.When pressed to elaborate on the contents of the proposed dress code, Hj Hardifadillah explained they are still in the process of producing the guideline. “Until there is further notice, the dress code is what we have that the moment,” he said, pointing to the audience in conservative work and casual attire.
To avoid being charged under the section titled Indecent Behaviour, he advised both Muslims and non-Muslims to don clothing that are deemed decent by public opinion.
“If you want to know if what you are wearing is decent or indecent, look to public opinion. What I see here today is decent,” said the special grade officer of Syariah law, noting that interpretation of the dress code is subjective.
He also acknowledged that the issue of clothing has become a popular topic during Syariah Penal Code Order briefings as the audience often sought further clarification on the matter.
“When you are in Qatar or Dubai, you are required to dress modestly. Likewise, insya’Allah, we will have our own dress code, but we will take into consideration our culture here as well. So don’t worry,” said Hj Hardifadillah, adding that a notice about the dress code will be issued to the public. There is no specific provision relating to a dress code in the new law, but offenders can be charged with wearing indecent clothing under Section 197.
The section, titled Indecent Behaviour, states that any person who commits an act of indecent behaviour in a public place is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both. An act is deemed indecent if it tarnishes the image of Islam, corrupts moral standards, causes negative influence or upsets eyewitnesses. Anyone who organises, persuades or encourages others to commit any act of indecent behaviour is also guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $8,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
Meanwhile, Hj Hardifadillah also encouraged the public to ask for a warrant card when dealing with any Syariah law enforcement officials. “There have been cases of people impersonating Syariah law enforcement officials. If you are approached, please ask for a warrant card. Remember, there are no compound fines in the Syariah Penal Code Order,” he said.
The briefing at the Orchid Garden Hotel in the capital was attended by around 100 Chinese diplomats and expatriates, including the acting Chinese ambassador to Brunei, Fang Xinwen.
The Brunei Times
Sun, 20 April 2014