DIRECTIVE DROPPED: Pas admits move to segregate unmarried Muslim couples in cinemas as overzealousness
KUALA LUMPUR: PAKATAN Rakyat leaders in Selangor have swiftly distanced themselves from a "ban" imposed by Kuala Selangor district council on unmarried Muslim couples from sitting together in a cinema.
State executive councillor, in charge of local councils, Ronnie Liu described it as "double standards" and the move would be put off pending a full board meeting to discuss the issue further.
Liu had also earlier claimed that the ruling was made without the state government's knowledge.
Selangor Pas leader and Kuala Selangor member of parliament Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, at a press conference yesterday, pleaded that the issue should not be politicised.
He admitted that it was an oversight and would be looked into when asked on the notice received by the cinema operator asking them to segregate unmarried Muslims when the issue was not even discussed at the district council's full board meeting.
"We are not blaming the district councillors who might have been overzealous in carrying out their duties as they have received many complaints of lewd behaviour in cinemas."
Selangor Pas deputy commissioner Khalid Samad said Muslim and non-Muslim couples must behave appropriately in public spaces.
Differences of opinion among PR leaders in Selangor is not new. In February this year, DAP's Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M. Manoharan had lambasted Pas assemblyman for Bangi, Dr Shafie Abu Bakar, who objected to the building of a cineplex in Bangi.
Meanwhile, the Kuala Selangor district council president Noraini Roslan said their ruling was no different than the notice put outside gambling premises.
"Check the wording in the notice. It is a reminder to Muslims."
The notice at the Kuala Selangor cinema stated non-muhrim Muslims were not allowed to sit together (bagi orang Islam yang bukan muhrim dilarang duduk bersebelahan).
When asked if action would be taken against couples caught sitting together in the cinemas, Noraini said they could only put the reminder and the power to penalise was stipulated under Selangor syariah.
Federation of Film Artistes Associations of Malaysia (Gafim) president Jurey Latiff Rosly said the move was peculiar as it did not come from the religious authorities.
"There is no fatwa that banned unmarried Muslim couples from sitting together in a cinema.
"If it comes from just one particular district council, it is questionable," he said to the New Straits Times.
He added that any such directive in the future should go through the religious scholars first to avoid inconsistencies.
Seniman president Zed Zaidi said he was shocked that Islamic values were imposed on couples as in Malaysia, enough religious education was given by the family and society.
A check by the New Straits Times yesterday showed that the notice had since been removed.
In another development the Selangor state government yesterday denied the connection between the increase of health centres, massage parlours and budget hotels with the upward trend of divorce rates and vice activities in the state.
Liu, in answering a supplementary question from Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim (PSM-Kota Damansara), during the state assembly sitting, said vice activities could also happen in five star hotels and not just budget hotels.
Earlier, Liu in answering Datuk Warno Dogol's (BN-Sabak) question on the number of massage parlours in the state, said that no new licences for massage parlours had been issued in the past few years.However, he admitted that new licences for massage parlours were still issued under health and beauty centres by local councils.