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Many right-thinking Malaysians sigh with relief when the caning sentence by a shariah court on Kartika for drinking beer in public has been commuted by the Head of State of Pahang where the “offence” was supposed to have been committed.

At last good senses prevail. The sentence which has received international media condemnation appears to have put Malaysia on a map of fundamentalism. It does not augur well for Malaysia wanting to promote foreign investments and certainly at odds with the New Economic Model recently announced.

We must thank the office of the Prime Minister for bringing this shameful saga to an end. It was subtly done as the so called offense occurred in the Prime Minister’s home state. His good connection with the Head of State could have brought this whole issue of female caning which is prohibited by the conventional court to an acceptable face-saving conclusion.

Kartika’s case was highlighted in Singapore as she has been staying there with her former Singaporean husband and that was how the international media got wind of it. As for the three Muslim women who have been caned, nobody seems to have cared. My heart really goes out to them. The three share a similar background: Low socioeconomic status and marginalization.

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