26 July 2009
Malaysia, Caning, and Beer -- Part II
It seems that the decision of the Sharia Court in eastern Pahang State to cane a Muslim model, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, for having a few beers in a nightclub has not been greeted with universal approval in Malaysia. The debate centers on the idea that convictions and sentences like this are rare in Malaysia where alcohol is widely available for consumption. There is also a belief that where an individual sins against their religion in this manner; drinking alcohol when it is forbidden, has sinned against God and therefore it is God who should mete out the punishment.
I have always argued that for those of us who sin against our religions or our Gods will be punished by our respective Gods when the time comes. There is no need for us insignificant human beings to get involved and take over the primary punishment role from God. Let's face it, I have some serious explaining to do come judgment day:
God: So, you spent your life doing good things and helping people less fortunate than yourself. You contributed to making the world a better place. But, not one day in your life did you acknowledge me or my existence, in fact you told everyone who asked that you did not believe in God. You told everyone that you were doing it because you were a good bloke and it was the right thing to do! Therefore, here's my question for you now, "what you got to say about that?"
Me: God, that is a good question. To be perfectly honest, I just figured I would be worm food and that would be it. I had never really contemplated having to come back and justify myself to you. But, God, here's my question to you, "why did you not reveal yourself to me in a more tangible way that would have made believing in you a whole lot easier proposition rather than irrational faith?"
You can see where this conversation with God is going.
There is little doubt that the punishment is harsh. Interestingly, it could have been a whole lot more harsh as the law allows for up to 40 lashes with the rattan cane. And, in all likelihood it is not going to deter those Muslims in Malaysia that want to drink alcohol from drinking alcohol. Where there is a will there is a way, simple.
Shukarno, though, has decided that it would be best just to get the punishment over and done with so that she can go back to living her life. And, she hopes that others learn from her experiences and refrain from drinking alcohol (or more specifically from getting caught).
The caning methods are set out here. It would appear that in many ways that the caning is as much symbolic as it is meant to cause pain in this case. Although, most canings I have read about talk about causing open wounds that leave nasty scars on those who are on the receiving end of the caning. This though is allegedly not the case here. Shukarno will be clothed, the cane will be shorter than usual, and the person doing the caning cannot raise the rattan above their head.
I wonder if there will be video of the sentence being carried out that will make its way onto YouTube or something. If you can get video of Saddam Hussein's hanging onto YouTube, then one would think the caning of a model should be easy.