“Discuss, reprimand and educate the woman before issuing fine,” Nga tells MPKB

LOCAL Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming has slammed the Kota Bharu Municipal Council’s (MPKB) for its decision to fine a non-Muslim woman for wearing shorts at her own shop.

According to the Teluk Intan MP, MPKB had violated the woman’s constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.

“This was a non-Muslim trader in her own shop and she was wearing shorts. These are fundamental rights and freedoms which are guaranteed in the Federal Constitution,” he told reporters in Cyberjaya today (June 27), adding that such freedoms should be respected in a multiracial society.

Nga said he has asked MPKB and the Kelantan state government to retract the compound.

Nga was responding to an incident that took place on Sunday (June 25), where a 35-year-old non-Muslim Kelantanese woman was issued a compound notice by MPKB for wearing what was described as “indecent clothing”.

MPKB president Rosnazli Amin said the woman was found to have committed an offence under Section 34(2) (b) Business and Industrial Trade By-Laws 2019 which states that non-Muslim business owners and their non-Muslim employees must wear “decent clothes” or, if they are Muslim, cover their aurat (modesty).

Additionally, the by-law does not define what is considered “decent” clothing.

The Kepayang assemblyman noted that MPKB should not be too eager to impose fines, and that the local council should have discussed the problem with the woman, reprimanded and educated her while also respecting her non-Muslim status.

Adoptive father will pay fine

Meanwhile, the woman’s adoptive father Sunny See Yeap Seng said he might pay the compound imposed on his adopted daughter as he wants this issue to be resolved immediately.

Furthermore, the 51-year-old businessman said that he also did not want certain quarters to take advantage of the issue to cause some stir among locals in the state.

“I would like to caution specific parties. Do not attempt to politicise this issue, as I do not wish for it to cause discord among the people.

“I am not opposing MPKB, and if the fine is less than RM500, I may resolve it shortly,” the businessman was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.

Fine should be voided and unlawful

Reacting to this, Bersatu Legal and Constitution Bureau deputy chairman Sasha Lyna Latif yesterday (June 26) said that the compound fine issued by MPKB to the woman should be considered void and unlawful adding that the council had no power to regulate clothing or morality.

According to her, Section 34(2) (b) of the council’s by-laws exceeds the powers given to the council under Section 102 of the Local Government Act 1976 to make by-laws.

“Section 102 only permits the council to make by-laws for health, safety and well-being. No power is granted to regulate clothing or morality.

“Whereas the clothing of Muslims can be regulated by Syariah enactments, the local authority cannot do so. Hence, the summons issued to the non-Muslim woman business owner is void and unlawful,” she was quoted as saying. – June 27, 2023

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