Ending confusion about Syariah law


THAT confusion has arisen in government agencies’ dissemination of information on the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 is a bitter reality that we must humbly and sincerely admit and we must end it once and for all as the dignity of our leader, our country and, most importantly, the newly-introduced Islamic criminal law, are at stake.

The wise man says: Tiada gading yang tak retak, right, there’s nobody who is perfect, and to err is human, but that does not mean that we should be complacent. We have to admit, magnanimously, to having made a mistake and for that, we ought to do something fast to correct the mistake or clarify the confusing statement.

As His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said in his titah on Monday in addressing the confusion about the Syariah Penal Code Order, we must not leave things for long without taking appropriate action, let alone to sweep the things under the carpet for far too long. His Majesty has warned the authorities — all government agencies concerned — to take a swift action to address any confusion on the Code and its implementation.

“We all must act wisely, particularly, the agencies dealing with the implementation (of the law). Failure to do so may be seen as our incompetence in handling such cases or having committed many faults or being inadequate,” stressed His Majesty.

The sovereign said there is a need to disseminate accurate information. “We should act fast. Any mistake made must be corrected. We must inform what is right so that there is no confusion. Confusion can lead to various reactions from the public, such as anger, dissatisfaction, fear or hatred. Are we going to let it be without addressing them?” His Majesty asked, stressing about the need of taking the best advantage of the electronic media, radio and television, besides the newspapers.

And in a clear warning to the media for any misleading reports they may have made, His Majesty said, “We should go to great lengths in responding to misleading media reports. Give the facts and, if necessary, take action against the media organisations that frequently report misleading or inaccurate information so that they will be more careful in the future.”

All of these confusions would not have happened if only our government agencies involved in disseminating and enforcing the Syariah laws had a little more sensitivity towards the public reaction. And, our caring monarch, would not have necessarily made such a reminder.

Why should wait for His Majesty to remind us what is best to do or how sensible should we react to respond to any confusion and to correct any mistakes done? Don’t we have a little sensitivity or awareness about the adverse effect it may cause to this noble duties — the enforcement of the laws prescribed by Allah the Almighty within the jurisdiction defined in the Penal Code, which incorporates Islamic Laws into the existing criminal justice system?

This is a righteous job that we need to carry out seriously, sincerely and wisely. It will be regarded an ibadah (righteous deed) as long as we do it earnestly because we are helping to uphold the laws ordained by the Creator, of the universe, the Law Giver, the All Just.

Let’s take a lesson, a blessing in disguise, from this episode, which has taught us that there are many things we can and have to do in disseminating the law. Among them is for the authorities to open a website dedicated to the Syariah Penal Code, where members of the public can interact constantly on anything related to the Code with the administrator or the manager. And we have sufficient resources to do this honourable job.

The government’s plan to set up a monitoring team, a watchdog, or whatever we call it, to respond to misinformation and confusion on the Islamic criminal law, is of course a positive step that we hope will bring us to a better level of enforcement and understanding of the law.

It is time now for all stakeholders to exert our best for the success of the implementation of the law.

For the media, it is also the right time for us to show our responsibility in disseminating the right information and avoiding misinformation. We must play our role with a higher sense of responsibility for the good of the nation.

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Fri, 9 May 2014

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