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Borders Statement: Borders deeply regrets Syariah Court’s decision (7 October 2013)
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Statement by the COO of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, Yau Su Peng

Borders deeply regrets Syariah Court’s decision
Refusal to drop criminal charge on store manager Nik Raina despite High Court ruling


This morning, 7.10.2013, was supposed to be a happy day for our store manager, Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz. But it was not to be.

Nik Raina was wrongfully and illegally charged by JAWI on 19.6.2012. Since that day, she and her family had to suffer great humiliation and trauma. She is a Muslim and like many Malaysian Muslim women, she wears the tudung as respect for her faith. However, her image as a respectable Muslim woman was severely tarnished because the charge made by JAWI against her was that she distributed a book that defiled Islam. In a majority Muslim country like Malaysia, an allegation that a person has defiled Islam generates all kinds of negative implications.

Thus, on 22.3.2013, Nik Raina was elated when the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the actions by JAWI in arresting and prosecuting Nik Raina was “unreasonable and irrational” and that the Syariah criminal charge against her in the Syariah High Court is “an infringement of Article 7 which is a provision concerning fundamental liberties, guaranteed by our Federal Constitution.”

Concerned over the psychological impact that this long drawn case was having on Nik Raina, we immediately instructed our lawyers to seek a discontinuance of the Syariah criminal charge; our lawyers proceeded to discuss with JAWI and the Attorney General Chambers on the best
way to cause a withdrawal of this case in a manner that would preserve the integrity of all parties concerned.

After several adjournments, the Syariah criminal case was eventually called this morning. Naturally, Nik Raina and all the staff and management of Borders were looking forward to an end to this long drawn unnecessary episode.

Therefore, we were surprised that after the JAWI prosecutors informed the Syariah Court that they were seeking a withdrawal of the charge, the JAWI prosecutors made subsequent submissions that were contrary to their withdrawal application. Consequently, the Syariah Court
decided that it would not allow a discontinuance of the Syariah criminal charge because it felt that it needed to uphold the independence of the Syariah Court from any interference by the Civil High Courts.

Borders deeply regrets JAWI’s insincerity in the withdrawal application. Borders further regrets the Syariah Court’s decision in refusing to drop the criminal charge against Nik Raina despitehaving been brought to its attention that the Civil High Court had ruled in the Judicial Review proceeding that the Syariah criminal charge brought by JAWI was invalid, illegal and unconstitutional.

The incident this morning is unprecedented. Normally, when the prosecution has intimated its withdrawal of any criminal charge and has conceded that the charge is invalid and illegal, the Court would not prevent such withdrawal and would in fact on its own motion strike down the charge. Thus, the decision by the Syariah Court was quite out of the ordinary. It is to be noted that the case had not started. In fact, Nik Raina had also declined to make a plea when the charge was read out to her on 19.6.2012. There was no prejudice to anyone if the criminal
charge was withdrawn today and the whole criminal case be brought to a swift end. There was no interference whatsoever on the Syariah Court’s jurisdiction.

Nik Raina is since speechless and deeply shocked. “I have been truly victimised and can only hope that my employers will continue to assist in clearing me of the baseless and unfair charge.”

It is unfortunate that the caution given by our legal counsel Rosli Dahlan, during the proceeding this morning “that there should be wisdom in handling this matter to avoid conflict of laws and a constitutional crisis” was not given due regard.

There is now uncertainty. What else must we, Borders, do to help Nik Raina gain her freedom?

Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, as owner of the Borders brand in Malaysia, hopes that our governmental authorities will intervene to seek a resolution to this matter so as to end this confusion and that might bring chaos to our multi racial society.

Meanwhile we remain steadfast in protecting and standing by its staff and will not be altering our hiring policy in order to prevent future “mishaps” and continue to have faith in the Malaysian justice system

On a final note we would like to record our thanks to all those - friends, fans and media alike - who have supported Nik Raina throughout her trying and traumatic journey and hope to have their continued support.

/END

For media enquiries, please contact Liza Ramli on +6019 387 4612 or e-mail lizaramli@lizaramli.com

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