Malaysians debate laws on sex and privacy


Kuala Lumpur : Health Minister Chua Soi Lek’s resignation after a sex scandal has prompted a heated debate in Malaysia over laws pertaining to sexual mores and privacy of individuals.

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Chua resigned as minister and MP after two clandestinely shot DVDs captured him in a sex romp with a woman in a hotel room. He has said the woman was “a personal friend” and has not pressed charges against anybody.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar declined to say whether Chua would be investigated for indulging in oral sex which, under Section 377A of the Malaysian Penal Code, is described as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

The law that makes oral sex a criminal offence is obsolete and should be repealed, said former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh. He said it was hypocritical for Malaysian society to see oral sex as an offence.

“Singapore has repealed the law and even before that a Singapore judge who tried such a case also construed that oral sex is not an offence if it is part of intercourse.

“The law should be repealed and if it is really enforced, I think over 95 percent of Malaysians would be put in jail,” Yeoh said in an interview to The Sun newspaper.

Political analyst Wong Chin Huat also described the legal definition of oral sex as outdated.

“I do not think many Malaysians would want to see Chua penalised for whatever he did with another consenting adult.

“It is time for us to do away with laws pertaining to ‘unnatural sex’, and the state should not have a say in what people do in their personal life,” he said.

Malaysia has stringent punishment for oral sex, which can lead to a jail sentence of up to 20 years and also whipping.

Yeo also noted there was no law in Malaysia to protect people’s privacy, saying it was time for such legislation in keeping with the times.

Wong added that Chua’s case highlighted the need for a Data Protection Act.

Illegal betting syndicates have refused to accept bets on the hotel room number where Chua’s DVDs were allegedly shot.

The New Straits Times said that the syndicates had been instructed by their bosses not to accept the number 1301 after photographs of the room, complete with its number, were printed on the front page of several Chinese dailies.