Syariah Law briefing for Brunei Press

A BRIEFING on the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 was held yesterday for the staff of Brunei Press Sdn Bhd at the Millenium Restaurant, Beribi.

A question was raised during the question-and-answer session on whether people are allowed to organise singing competitions after the enforcement of the Syariah Law.

According to Hjh Hassanah binti Hj Hassan, Deputy Senior Legal Adviser at the Attorney General’s Chambers, although there is currently no provision that prohibits the organising of or participation in singing competitions, in the event that a performance in any competition is reported to display indecent behaviour that can tarnish the image of Islam, bring bad influence or cause anger to whoever is witnessing the act, the authorities will be obliged to investigate and even prosecute suspects depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The next question touched on whether Syariah Law will also apply to tourists who visit the Sultanate.

Hjh Hassanah explained that the Syariah Penal Code Order applies to Muslims and non-Muslims and whoever resides in the Sultanate just as Bruneians are subjected to the law of the land when they travel abroad.

Hajah Fatimah Hj Ahmad, Deputy Syar’ie Prosecutor, added that tourists who are not familiar with Brunei’s Syariah Law would be taken into consideration and will only be issued a warning or given advice by Religious Enforcement Officers.

“We are not saying that all cases will end up in court. There will be discretion on the part of the Religious Enforcement Officers as well as our discretion as the prosecutors whether we want to go on with the case or if issuing an advice is the solution. It will depend on the facts of the cases,” said Hajah Fatimah.

This was then followed by a response to a question on indecent clothing. According to Hjh Hassanah, there is no provision in the Syariah Penal Code Order on indecent clothing for Muslims and non-Muslims. She said that if a Muslim does not cover their aurat, it is between them and Allah the Almighty because it has been revealed in the Al-Quran that every Muslim must cover their aurat.

She added that when it comes to the provision on indecent clothing, the panelists will always refer back to the elements under indecent behaviour because there is no other provision to govern on indecent clothing.

In response to whether it is allowed for cosplay or costume play enthusiasts to dress up as the opposite sex when the Syariah Penal Code Order is enforced, Ustaz Haji Saharuddin bin Haji Petra, Senior Religious Officer, Head of Family Advice Services, Department of Syariah Affairs, said from the Islamic perspective that it is prohibited for a man to resemble a woman and a woman to resemble a man, especially if it is only for enjoyment or amusement.