PETALING JAYA: MCA has criticized PAS for proposing that the cane be used for out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Vice president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said such punishment “is akin to forcibly inducing abortions” and added that PAS is ignoring the safety of the innocent foetus even before it is delivered.

She was responding to a statement by Pasir Puteh MP Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad who suggested that those who committed zina (illicit sex) be cane up to 100 lashes.

Chew said it was cruel to overlook the reality that the illegitimate child would grow up being stigmatized, adding that men should bear the responsibility of committing illicit sex.

She said besides caning, the proposed amendments to Act 355 (that seek to enhance the Syariah court punishments) also seeks for penalty increases of up to 30 years’ jail and a RM100,000 fine.

“These punishments are inhumane as the mother will have to spend most of her life in jail. Such heavy penalties will not deter pregnancies out-of-wedlock,” said Chew.

She added that such penalties would encourage baby-dumping as most unwed mothers would use this way to avoid being caught and penalised.

“This will be a never-ending cycle of evil. Educating teenagers and young adults on abstinence before marriage is a better preventive measure for unplanned pregnancies,” she said in a statement.

Chew said efforts by non-governmental organisations such as OrphanCare, where abandoned babies are quickly matched up with suitable parents, should be supported.

Unwed mothers may be mostly young and come under pressure from social stigma, coupled with a sense of hopelessness after they gave birth and do not know who to turn to, she said.

“Therefore it is unrealistic for PAS to propose stiffer punishments. It is only appropriate to provide a humane solution to address the issue of baby dumping,” she said.