Please please PLEEEEEEASE can the guys in charge reassign the volunteers to watch the streets and keep citizens from harassment, instead of getting them harassed? I’m sure all Malaysians, Muslim or non-Muslim, would greatly appreaciate and completely accept such a service.
From The Star 22 Feb 2007:
Spying on Muslims only
KUALA TERENGGANU: Tip-offs by Mat Skoding are confined to wrongdoings committed by Muslims, the state government explained Wednesday.
State Islam Hadhari and Welfare Committee chairman Datuk Rosol Wahid said he wanted to emphasise this to avoid any misunderstanding.
He said the Mat Skoding, part of a voluntary squad under the guidance of state religious advisers, had no right to apprehend people.
This had been clarified to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who called from Jakarta yesterday to speak with Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
The strategy of using the voluntary corps to provide tip-offs had been used for almost a decade, Rosol said. The Mat Skoding comprise, among others, hotel workers and those employed at locations where immoral activities are likely to occur.
“This (vigilance by Mat Skoding) is not a new practice,” he told a specially called press conference to explain a report in The Star on Tuesday on the Mat Skoding issue.
Rosol was reported to have said that to avert soaring cases of close proximity and vice, the Terengganu Government would use Mat Skoding to tip-off religious department officials.
His statement has drawn flak from many quarters, with some describing it as repulsive.
Also from The Star 22 Feb 2007:
Informers ‘must be sound’
KUALA LUMPUR: Using Mat Skoding to help curb immoral activities is fine but the volunteers selected must have sound religious character, Johor Mufti Datuk Noh Gadut said.
He said informers should be selected on the basis of four basic traits – siddiq (sincerity), amanah (trustworthiness), tabligh (ability to deliver “the message”) and hikmah (wisdom).
“They (the informers) need to have these four traits so that they will not abuse their power. They must be sincere so that they will not twist information. They must be trustworthy so that they will not be biased,” he said.
Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani supported the move, saying that informers were tools to prevent illicit behaviour from becoming rampant.
Malaysian Ulama Association president Abdul Ghani Samsuddin said it was up to the department to train informers to carry out their duty responsibly.
“There is nothing wrong with rewarding the informers, who are sincerely helping to carry out their fardu kifayah (social obligation) to curb immoral acts,” he added.
Sisters In Islam (SIS) said, however, it was disappointed that Malaysians were being again enlisted and “trained” to spy on one another.
The Women’s Aid Organisation said it was appalled by this attempt at “moral policing”.
And one more from The Star 22 Feb 2007:
Be consistent in banning moral squads, Government urged
PETALING JAYA: The Government should be consistent in its policy banning the formation of moral policing squads, the DAP said.
Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said such moves had been initiated in Malacca in 2005 for a month before its “Peeping Tom squad” was disbanded.
Lim said a similar squad was formed by the Federal Territory Religious Department in January last year but was disbanded by the Cabinet.
“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had stressed that the Cabinet should be consistent and stand firm by its earlier decision that no groups should be formed to spy on people on the basis of moral grounds.
“Whatever reason given by the Terengganu state exco that the Mat Skoding squad will only report suspicious behaviour to the state Islamic Affairs Department and not even offer counselling is unacceptable,” he said in a statement yesterday.
And finally, from NST 22 Feb 2007:
‘No peep squads, only informants’
22 Feb 2007
KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government has again denied that it is setting up a Mat Skodeng (Peeping Tom) squad to spy on couples for khalwat (close proximity).
“No such squad. We only have informants who are volunteers to provide information to enforcement officers of the state Religious Affairs Department.
“These informants must be willing to stand as prosecution witnesses. They have no power to arrest or investigate couples,” said state Islam Hadhari and Welfare Committee chairman Datuk Rosol Wahid.
He said the informants had been around for “a long time” and done an excellent job co-operating with enforcement officers to check on moral decay among the public.
“These informants are everywhere. They could even be your neighbour,” he said, denying a newspaper report (not the New Straits Times) that the state had set up a Mat Skodeng squad to curb vices.
He added that Mat Skodeng were perverts and voyeurs and rejected by Islam.
Rosol said he had to make the clarification following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call to Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
Abdullah wanted an explanation on why there was still such a vigilante squad when there was a Cabinet decision to stop the formation of such a volunteer group in Putrajaya.
The Cabinet had requested Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam to disband its Mat Skodeng squad meant for the same purpose.
“I believe we are doing the right thing and in line with the state motto of Islam Hadhari, Terengganu Bestari (Islam Hadhari, Intelligent Terengganu),” said Rosol.