In a Facebook video today, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad commented on the public caning of two Terengganu women who pleaded guilty to attempting to have sex
"The cabinet is of the opinion that this (the caning) does not reflect the justice and mercy of Islam," Mahathir said in the video.
As it was the first conviction of same-sex relations under the Syariah law, the Prime Minister added that the women should have been advised instead of being publicly whipped to the point where it was "known by the whole country".
Mahathir also stressed that it is vital to not portray Islam as a cruel religion
"It is important to show that the Islamic faith is not a cruel religion that seeks heavy punishment that humiliate people. This is not what Islam promotes," the Prime Minister said.
Moreover, Mahathir emphasised on mercy being the foundation of Islamic teaching.
"Before we begin anything we usually say the words 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' in the name of Allah the Most Gracious and Most Merciful. But we are acting as if there is no mercy at all in Islam," he added.
This was the first statement from the Cabinet after minister in the Prime Minister's Department Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa called for reconsideration of the public nature of the caning earlier this week
"It (provision of public caning) must be looked into, whether the (general) public can be present," Mujahid was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight on 3 September.
A day later, The Star reported Terengganu Menteri Besar Dr. Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar as saying that criticism of the caning will "eventually blow over".