Alcohol consumption is a religious offense for Muslims in Malaysia, and the offenders are fined, caned, and given a prison term of maximum 3 years.
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, popularly known as Kartika was sentenced to six lashes and a fine of 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit ($1,400) by the Shariah High Court in the country.
The 32-year-old part-time model and a mother of two who was to be caned for drinking beer in a hotel in Malaysia resides in Singapore and was visiting Malaysia.
In her advice to the youths, Kartika said “I want to advise youngsters to learn from my experience and not cause shame to themselves and their families.”
The plea by Amnesty International for authorities to revoke the sentence and abolish the practice of caning altogether was ignored.
Amnesty International sees it as an inhuman and degrading punishment that is prohibited under international human rights law.
Many people had condemned the punishment, saying it shows conservative Islamists are gaining influence over the justice system.
However, the punishment which drew international condemnation by notably rights activists was later commuted to community service for three weeks by Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Each state in Malaysia is ruled by a sultan who is the guardian of Islamic matters in that state. He can overrule the decision of an Islamic court.
It means one single man has more power than a court. Another funny thing is that people who practice other religions in Malaysia are free to drink alcohol but Muslims are not.
Kartika was not afraid of the punishment. Rather, she insisted that she was ready to be lashed six times with a rattan cane for breaching the country’s Shariah law.
She said she preferred to be caned in the public in order to send a clear message to other Muslims that they should avoid drinking alcohol.
She said: “I want to respect the law. Who am I to question the Islamic authorities’ laws? That is beyond me.
“I never cried when I was sentenced by the judge. I told myself, all right then, let’s get on with it. But if you’re going to cane me, then do it in public.”
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