KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Lawyer and activist Siti Zabedah Kasim was acquitted today of obstructing the duties of a public servant during a Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) raid on a transgender event in 2016.
Kuala Lumpur magistrate Tawfiq Affandy Chin this morning ruled that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against her.
He also found that Jawi did not follow the correct procedure during the 2016 raid and Siti was just acting in her capacity as a lawyer.
Meanwhile, Suzana said the magistrate agreed with the defence’s argument that the manner by which Jawi had conducted the raid was wrong.
She also revealed that no one who was arrested in the raid, including Siti, was charged later in the Shariah Court.
“Jawi described the event as a beauty pageant to the media, but the police report called it a dinner ceremony with a beauty pageant theme. There was never any contest.
“Any member of the public should be wary if they are arrested by Jawi. They must check the police report,” she said.
Siti is being charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code for allegedly obstructing Siti Nor Jihan, a government officer, from discharging her duty during a religious raid at the Renaissance Hotel on April 3, 2016.
Siti claimed that she had been arrested by the officers despite identifying herself as a lawyer and guest at the private dinner party for trans women.
19 July 2018
KUALA LUMPUR: A Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) officer told the Magistrate’s Court today she was unaware that lawyer-activist Siti Kasim was present as a legal counsel at a closed-door transgender event two years ago.
Enforcement officer Siti Nor Jihan Saleh said she was not aware that the lawyer was acting on behalf of the pageant organiser when questioning why Jawi conducted the raid at the event.
“We were shouting at each other because she refused to listen to our explanation for why we were there,” she said when asked by Siti’s lawyer Suzana Norlihan Alias whether she had heard of the activist.
However, when further questioned by Suzana, she denied that she had intended to provoke Siti.
Suzana then asked whether, as a lawyer, Siti had the responsibility to question Jawi’s presence at a closed-door event and to demand that Jawi produce an arrest or search warrant.
“I don’t know,” Nor Jihan replied.
A video of Siti shouting at Jawi officers, asking if they had a warrant to raid the closed-door event, went viral on social media.
Nor Jihan also said the Jawi officers had arrested Siti for obstructing them from doing their job.
When asked by Suzana whether Jawi had behaved in a prejudiced manner by arresting Siti and not another individual who had allegedly flashed her breasts at her, Nor Jihan said no.
“There is no specific provision under shariah law to criminalise people who show their breasts,” she said.
The hearing continues before magistrate Maizatul Munirah Abd Rahman on July 27.
31 May 2018
30 May 2018
Jawi officer tells court Google to blame for failure to explain transgender pageant raid
KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — A senior religious enforcer blamed Google today for her failure to provide the law provision under which lawyer Siti Kasim and the organiser of a transgender beauty pageant were to be detained two years ago.
Siti Norjihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali told a criminal magistrates court that she had tried to seek answers to Siti’s “provocative” questions by turning to search engine Google, only to be left disappointed.
“As far as I remember, I tried to find the section mentioned by the accused, but I couldn’t find the section, because she kept asking so many times: ‘What section? What section?’
“As far as I remember, my Google wasn’t working well,” Siti Nor Jihan said.
She told the court that the operation by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) had only wanted to detain the organiser of the beauty pageant by the name of “Ira Sofia” and the participants, but not Siti.
During examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Hafizza Sauni, Siti Nor Jihan said that the raid, which was carried out at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, was in accordance with Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.
“What we were trying to explain was that with regards to the beauty pageant, clearly, there is a fatwa that has been gazetted, and Section 9 refers to the violation of that fatwa. The offence was for violating the fatwa,” she said, adding that it is ‘“forbidden and sinful” for Muslim to take part in beauty pageants.
She said that it is equally sacrilegious for Muslims to organise or contribute to such events.
During the trial today, Siti Norjihan, who was the deputy operations head during the raid, also accused Siti of trying to delay Ira’s detention, by not cooperating with Jawi officials.
“We explained many times to the accused about the offence and asked for cooperation but until the end, when we wanted to detain the people, we were still provoked.
“We tried to entertain the questions posed by the accused, though the fact was clear that we had the power to detain the organiser of the beauty pageant that night,” she added.
Judge Maizatul Munirah Abd Rahman then adjourned the hearing until tomorrow.
26 March 2018
Jawi doesn’t need a warrant to conduct raids, court told
KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Raids conducted by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) were never done while armed with a search warrant, the Magistrates court was told today by a Jawi personnel.
Mohd Johan Mohd RIdzuan, a Jawi videographer, revealed this when he took the stand as the fourth witness during the trial of Siti Kasim, an activist who was charged and pleaded not guilty for voluntarily obstructing a Jawi officer, Sit Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali, from discharging her public functions, during a raid at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on April 3, 2016.
“Whenever we go to a location, in any case, I never saw a warrant ever issued.
“We (Jawi) do not need a warrant to do checks, and on this night I did not see any warrant,” he said.
His answer drew loud gasps from the courtroom that was filled with more than 70 people comprising news reporters, Jawi employees, and a diverse group of Siti’s supporters.
This was in reply to a video presented in court, recorded by Mohd Johan himself, where Siti can be seen requesting a search warrant from a Jawi officer during the event in April 2016.
Mohd Johan, who took the stand on the third day of trial for Siti, was responding to a cross examination done by lead defence counsel Suzana Norlihan Alias.
Having already revealed no warrants were used, Mohd Johan then agreed to the counsel’s questions that based on the videos, Siti had shown cooperation towards Jawi officials that night.
“Based on the video, you agree Siti introduced herself as a lawyer twice, and that Jawi were not stopped when they tried to enter the hall or when they gave instructions over the microphone,” Suzana asked.
“Yes, I agree,” Mohd Johan answered.
Probing then shifted towards his understanding of the event, where the defence stated it was a dinner with a pageant themed performance, and not a full blown beauty competition as described by Mohd Johan.
“When we were briefed before coming, we were told there was a pageant going on, that is what I expected to see.
“My superior Tuan Akmal told us they were alerted of the event by a member of the public, and said that activities at the event were against the Fatwa,” he said.
Mohd Johan was later asked why he deduced it was an actual pageant, where he explained the mannerism of the event was what convinced him.
“To me, from the manner of it, it seemed like a pageant.
“Every competition has a winner, and so happen when I walked in the emcee was announcing the winners, so that made me believe,” Mohd Johan explained to the court.
He however conceded that no one was later arrested by Jawi on suspicion of taking part in the pageant, adding that it was not a decision for him to make.
Jawi officer: No warrants during raids
KUALA LUMPUR: A Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) officer told the magistrate’s court here that warrants were never produced during the raids he was involved in, drawing murmurs from the public gallery.
“Every time I am at the location (of a raid), I never see a warrant produced,” the officer, Mohd Johan Mohd Ridzuan, said.
He was testifying under cross-examination by defence counsel Suzana Norlihan Alias, who asked whether there was a warrant during the raid at a transgender event at the hotel on the night of April 3, 2016.
Mohd Johan, who was the assigned videographer during the raid, was testifying yesterday at the trial of lawyer and activist Siti Kasim, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of obstructing Jawi enforcement officer Siti Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali from executing her duties.
When asked by the defence for the reason for the raid, Mohd Johan said he was only told that a beauty contest was taking place.
But he admitted that none of the participants on stage for the alleged beauty contest were arrested.
He also admitted that the video footage he captured that night showed Siti Kasim cooperating during the raid.
He also agreed with the defence’s suggestion that the people who obstructed Jawi officials that night were hotel workers.
12 February 2018
@sitikasim – re examination of photographer. Other photographer would take video of event from start to end. Accused only asked a few questions of the investigating officer. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – re examination of photographer – Photos to be used as evidence – that’s what I meant when I said the photos were taken to side JAKIM. If videos and photos sided accuses I would not stop videoing. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – re examination of photographer – I printed the photos. I did not check the time – felt we were at the operations for a long time. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – photographer’s cross – I agree the accused only asked questions of officers in charge of raid. I did not fill in any form for handing over videos and photos to the investigating officer. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – photographer’s cross: I agree I cannot record videos from beginning to end of operation. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – I agree that any photos or videos siding accused is not in court. All photos and videos taken to side JAWI. @justice_sisters
@sitikasim – information given about the event – they knew 2 months before hand? Not sure. In briefing no names of suspects mentioned? Agree. I agree the photos to be used in court. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – photographer being crossed examined. Where did your memory of being at the event for more or less 4 hours come from? I said more or less. I only remember important things. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – I agree that no signature on the exhibits saying I took the photos. Yes, no S90A certificate produced today under Evidence Act to confirm I printed the photos. @justice_sisters
@sitikasim – cross examination begins. Photographer agreed she has 3 tasks. She does not agreed that investigating officers were at the event. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim – Some videos and photos shown in court, and marked as exhibits. The photographer could not remember the investigating officer she gave the photos and videos to. @justice_sisters #DropTheS186Charge
@sitikasim trial: 15 officers conducted the raid, 2 were photographers. Total of 32 photos were taken& some videos. Raid started at 1030pm. First witness was informed of the raid on 3 april 2016. No photos, videos were shared with siti‘s legal team #solidaritywithsitikasim
29 June 2017
Siti Kasim’s donation drive closed after exceeding target by over RM2,000
KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — A donation drive to help lawyer and activist Siti Kasim in her legal defence and suit against the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) has been closed today after exceeding its target.
According to the Freedom Fund Working Committee, the drive managed to collect over RM10,000, less than a week since it was launched in June 23.
“We’re pleased to inform all of you that we’ve exceeded our target amount of RM8,000. As at today, we’ve collected a total of RM10,226.83 from 96 individuals.
“Since we have achieved our targeted amount, we would like to announce that our donation drive to help Siti Kasim is now closed,” the committee said in a brief statement.
The committee had previously said that out of its initial target of RM8,000, RM3,000 would cover the bail, while the rest for filing charges for her suit against Jawi, the fine should she be convicted, and other incidental expenses.
Siti Kasim was discharging her duties as a lawyer, says Bar
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese says lawyers must be allowed to advance a client’s rights without obstruction, impediment or fear of prosecution.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar says Siti Kasim was only discharging her professional duties as a lawyer at a transgender event last year which was raided by officers from the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi).
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said Siti Kasim had been present at the function in her capacity as an advocate and solicitor for the event’s organisers and participants.
“She identified herself as a lawyer and inquired about the basis for the raid.
“As such, she was discharging her professional duties as a lawyer at the time that the alleged offence was said to have been committed,” he said in a statement today.
23 June 2017
Siti Kasim to pursue lawsuit against Jawi
June 23, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer and activist Siti Kasim says she will continue her lawsuit against the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) for raiding a transgender event at a hotel here last year.
“Most definitely I will continue my action against them,” she told reporters after posting RM3,000 bail for her charge of obstructing a Jawi enforcement officer, Siti Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali, from discharging her duty.
Earlier, Siti Kasim claimed trial at the Magistrate’s Court on the charge, made under Section 186 of the Penal Code.
When asked if she had received the names of the Jawi officers who took part in the raid on April 3 last year, she said the names had been given to her.
The High Court had on June 13 ordered the government to provide the officers’ names to Siti Kasim within 14 days, following an application she made.
Siti Kassim claims trial to charge of obstructing Jawi officer’s duties
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer and activist Siti Zabedah Kassim today claimed trial at the magistrate’s court to a charge of obstructing an officer from the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) from carrying out her public function, more than one year ago.
Siti, 54, is alleged to have committed the offence by stopping Jawi’s enforcement officer Siti Nor Jihan Saleh@ Md Ghazali, 36, from carrying out her duties at the Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel at 10.30pm on April 3, 2016.
Deputy public prosecutor Siti Hajar Mohd Ashif told the court that the prosecution was not offering bail for Siti because the offence is a non-bailable one.
Counsel Roger Chan said Siti is a member of the Malaysian Bar Council, a lawyer and activist who plays an important role in society.
“She is not a flight risk and will be able to come to court for her trial. I hope the court will be able to impose a bail without collateral,” he said.
Co-counsel Rajsurian Pillai also told the court that the incident which Siti was charged for happened in 2016.
Magistrate Ahmad Solihin Abd Wahid set bail at RM3,000 in one surety and fixed Aug 22 for mention.
22 June 2017
14 June 2017
KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Lawyer and social activist Siti Kasim is expected to be charged with obstruction of duty during a transgender “beauty pageant” raid conducted by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) last year.
Siti, who was a guest at the event but was arrested by authorities, said in a Facebook posting that she will be charged on June 23 under Section 186 of the Penal Code, for voluntarily obstructing a public servant from carrying out his duties.
If found guilty, Siti could face two years in prison, a RM 10,000 fine, or both.
Siti Kasim said that she knew about the charge after receiving a phone call from a police officer earlier today, just hours after the High Court here, in a hearing related to Siti Kasim’s planned civil suit against Jawi regarding her arrest that night, ordered Jawi to release the details of officers involved during the raid.
“Hmmm… very interesting indeed….. coincidence?” she wrote on her Facebook account on the information regarding her charge being relayed right after the court ruling.
Siti Kasim claimed that she was arrested during the April 3 raid by the officers despite identifying herself as a lawyer and as a guest during the dinner.
She was later kept waiting for several hours at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters before being told that she was not under arrest.
13 June 2017
Court orders Jawi to give details of officers in transgender event raid
The High Court has given the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) 14 days to release details of its officers involved in arresting lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim during a raid on a transgender event in April last year.
Lawyer Surendra Ananth said the decision was made by Justice Faizah Jamaludin in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, who granted Siti’s application in chambers this morning.
“The judge has ordered the federal government to provide the names, positions and particulars of the enforcement officers involved in the arrest within 14 days,” he told Malaysiakini.
Surendra said the application was related to his client’s intention to file a suit against Jawi over her arrest for allegedly holding a beauty pageant at Renaissance Hotel on April 3 last year.
“The issue is that we don’t have the names of the officers involved.
“So this (application) is a pre-action discovery in order for us to proceed with the suit,” he said after the decision was delivered in chambers by Justice Faizah.
1 Nov 2016
Lawyer sues Jawi for raid on transgender event
1 Nov 2016, PM 1:25 (Updated 1 Nov 2016, PM 3:22)
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Siti Kasim has taken the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) to court to compel the department to name the religious officers involved in a raid at a transgender event.
Siti was subsequently arrested on April 3 at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
In the originating summons filed by Mark Law Chambers on Oct 20, Siti urged the court to order Jawi to provide her with details of the said officers.
She wants their names, identification numbers and positions held.
Siti also wants copies of any police reports lodged against her, copy of arrest report and any warrant which gave the religious department the authority to carry out the raid and arrest her.
The activist disclosed in the affidavit that her lawyers wrote to Jawi on September 14 requesting those details as she wanted to proceed with legal action against them.
Siti’s affidavit alleged that the sudden appearance of Jawi officers at the event caused chaos. “They raided the event. They did not explain the reason for the raid.”
She added that no arrest warrant was produced and that the Jawi officers were not accompanied by police.
One religious officer allegedly told Siti it was an “offence” to organise the transgender beauty contest.
“The officer could not cite the law the event had violated,” she said.
She told the Jawi officers the event was a closed-door affair but, “they started shouting at me and at others in the crowd”.
She was then taken to the Dang Wangi police station.
4 April 2016
Malay Mail Online
JAWI raids transgender ‘beauty pageant’ for breaking fatwa
KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) raided a dinner by trans women last night that hosted a so-called beauty contest on grounds that it violated a fatwa against beauty pageants, a lawyer said.
Lawyer and activist Siti Kasim, who attended the closed-door function at an upscale hotel here, said the religious authorities have also detained the event’s transgender organiser.
“The officer told me that it’s against the law to have a beauty contest — it’s ‘haram’ in Malaysia, based on a fatwa,” Siti told Malay Mail Online today.
“It’s not a real beauty pageant, it’s a show,” she added.
She said about 10 JAWI officers, together with the media, came to the hotel at about 10pm yesterday and prevented people from leaving the dinner that had about 200 transgender guests.
According to the lawyer, the religious authorities did not have a warrant and were unaccompanied by the police.
Siti said she called the police and that after they came, the guests were allowed to leave. However, JAWI officers took her and the event organiser to the Dang Wangi police station.
According to Siti, JAWI officers later denied at the police station that she was under arrest, but accused the event organiser of organising a beauty contest that was against the 1996 religious edict, which has been gazetted as law, prohibiting Muslim women from joining beauty pageants.
“If they say these people are not women, then why are they coming in?” Siti questioned.