Malaysian activists protest city laws against kissing in public

Opposition activists staged a protest Thursday denouncing morality laws that prevent couples from publicly hugging and kissing in Malaysia's largest city.

Ten male and female representatives of the Democratic Action Party's youth wing held hands and carried banners that read "Mind your own business" outside the headquarters of Kuala Lumpur City Hall. One man also kissed a woman on the cheek.

"There should not be any moral policing, Malaysians are mature enough to know how to behave in public," said Chong Chieng Jen, the youth wing's deputy chief.

The protest was in support of an ethnic Chinese couple, Ooi Kean Thong and Siow Ai Wei, expected to face indecency charges in court in June for allegedly hugging and kissing in public.

City officials claim they caught Ooi, 24, and Siow, 22, in the act at a park near the landmark Petronas Twin Towers in 2003. Such acts are deemed indecent under a Kuala Lumpur bylaw, and their lawyer has said the couple could be jailed for up to a year if convicted.

About 20 police and city hall officers watched Wednesday's 10-minute protest.

Chong expressed concerns that the enforcement of morality laws was tantamount to forcing ethnic minority communities to accept Muslim decency standards.

"If we don't voice our protest, the process of Islamization of Malaysia will take a big leap," Chong told reporters.

About a quarter of Malaysia's 26 million people are ethnic Chinese, while Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team