Side Views

Khalwat, tangkap basah and politicians — A. Kadir Jasin

FEB 28 — If one lives long enough and is observant, he or she is bound to come across a similar incident or hear a similar story more than once. Over time, the incident or story becomes familiar.

So, when I read the story of one Dr Badrul Amin Baharom being allegedly caught in close proximity — better known in the Malaysian syariah parlance as “khalwat” and the Malay language as “tangkap basah” — it reminded me of a similar story that took place some 15 years ago.

For those unfamiliar with “tangkap basah”, it literally means being caught while being wet.

Of course, like all macho and self-righteous Muslim politicians accused of khawat, Badrul Amin vehemently denied it.

Only a village yokel would own up when caught. He would admit to committing the khalwat either out of fear of being beaten to pulp or because he wanted to marry his khalwat partner quickly and cheaply.

But Badrul Amin is no country yokel. He is a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s supreme council and the Selangor government information chief. He was a former law lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia and has always held the moral high ground.

But a few nights ago in Kuantan, he was accused of committing khalwat with a 28-year old married woman. They were “caught wet” by the woman’s husband and his friends.

What is similar and familiar about Badrul Amin’s story and the story of 15 years ago was the reason for being in the khalwat situation.

They were both being good macho men trying to help married women in distress — a sort of knight in shining armour.

In denying the “tangkap basah” allegation, Badrul Amin was reported saying that “he was merely helping a woman who was facing domestic problems.”

Like the story I heard 15 years ago, the venue for helping the dame in distress was not a mosque or a surau. It was not even at the office of the party’s complaint bureau or the service centre of a wakil rakyat. Instead, the allegedly attempt to “save the mosque” took place in a hotel room. The Malays often refer to marriage as building a mosque.

The story of 15 years ago was told to me (and several other media editors) by the accused person himself. However, unlike Badrul Amin, this high-ranking national politician was not accused of khalwat by any person or state authority. He was accused of having an affair or something of that sort with a housewife. His accuser was a woman who is related to the distressed housewife.

He too did not try to solve the woman’s alleged marriage problem at a mosque, his own official residence or office. He went to a posh condominium. Then, the number of such establishments was small and could be easily tracked down.

Politicians very often talk about transparency and decency. The most transparent way of solving problems and handling complaints, including marital ones, is the MCA Public Complains Bureau way.

The bureau’s facilitator (Datuk) Michael Chong is so well known that the bureau’s clientele cuts across religious, racial and political divides.

Rendezvous in a hotel room and a condominium clubhouse is not the best way for politicians to solve marital problems of distressed housewives.

Still, we must give credit to the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government for swiftly asking Badrul Amin to go on leave for a month.

“We hope the leave will be used (by Dr Badrulamin) to focus on efforts to clear his name,” the Mentri Besar's Office said a statement.

But Badrul Amin does not have to worry too much. Unlike in the West, where politicians are forced to resign because of sexual improprieties, in Malaysia politicians accused of such offences thrive. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.


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