Malaysian vice cops nabbed

"Religious" officers allegedly request bribes and sex from couple arrested for being too "close."

Published May 19, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Muslim, unmarried and living in Malaysia? Better not get caught in the heinous crime of "khalwat" (close proximity). Not only is this extremely immoral act frowned upon, officers from the State Religious Department just might shake you down for money and sexual favors.

Such a scene reportedly unfolded recently in the town of Tampin, in Negeri Sembilan state, south of Kuala Lumpur. The amorous couple knew they were doing something wrong, but were astonished when the three religious enforcement officers, who caught them red-handed, offered to let them go with a few conditions.

The Negri Sembilan Religious Department officials allegedly negotiated a bribe of 1,500 ringgit (about $395), and one of them went so far as to ask the woman out on a date and to have sex with him. In the process of making this offer, according to news reports, the officer also fondled the woman. The couple were left alone after they promised to comply with the officers' requests. If they didn't meet the officers at a coffee shop and pay the bribe (and acquiesce to the date), they were threatened with an appearance before the Syariah court. But instead of bowing to pressure, the couple chose to notify the State Anti-Corruption Agency, and turned in the officers.

As it turned out, the agency had apparently already been monitoring enforcement teams from the state Religious Department, based on suspicions that some of the guys were going above and beyond the call of duty, and squeezing innocent citizens for money and sex.

When the couple met the Religious Department staff to hand over the bribe money at a coffee shop in Seremban (the capital of Negeri Sembilan), a team from the Anti-Corruption Agency was waiting in hiding. As one of the religious officers arrived to collect, he was pounced upon by the ACA team. The other two staff members were later nabbed. After searching the officers' cars, ACA discovered several illegal betting tickets. All three men were arrested under the Anti-Corruption Act.

State ACA director Akhbar Satar called upon the public to report any alleged shakedowns. He did not, however, condone the "close proximity."

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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