Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
The President of the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association, Tuan Haji Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar called me up last Monday ~ 21st June 2010 and asked me whether I'd be interested to join him and his Exco members on a 3D 2N Study Tour of the Implementation of Islamic Syaria in the autonomous Special Province of Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam?
The mainly Muslim majority province of northernmost Sumatera is the very first region in the history of South East Asia to embrace Islam and is well known as one of the 3 Islamic Corridors of the region. The other two being Pattani in Southern Thailand and the State of Kelantan in the Malay Peninsular.
Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam is located at the northernmost tip of Sumatera, Republic of Indonesia and was devastated by the world's worst tsunami that hit the province on Dec 26, 2004 following a massive offshore earthquake that measured 9.4 on the Richter scale!
The tragedy took the lives of more than 280,000 people in Acheh alone and many other hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, holiday spots in Thailand, coastal areas of Kuala Muda in Kedah and quite a number of lives at the northern beaches of Penang, my home island here in Malaysia.
The allowance for the total implementation of Islamic Syaria in autonomous Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam is one of the conditions for the peace accords signed between the Acheh Liberation Movement @ Gerakan Acheh Merdeka or GAM with the Federal Government of the Republic of Indonesia based in Jakarta.
The implementation of the Syaria Penal Code in Acheh has begun since 2001 and the caning of Syaria offenders as shown by the photo below has been widely been misreported by the world's media as to its true situations.
This invitation to me to join the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association in their study tour was God sent and I grabbed the opportunity to go see for my own self as to how the Syaria is being upheld and put to practice in the land once known as the Sultanate of Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam?
My job function during this study tour was to record all the meetings and briefings between PPMM and the Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam autonomous provincial government authorities, Syariah Departments and Ministries.
The trip was scheduled to be on Thursday the 24th of June, 2010 ending with our returning home to Malaysia on Saturday, the 26th of June, 2010.
I asked him to give me time to consider and discuss with my missus? Zainul Rijal agreed and asked me to confirm my willingness to accompany his team overnight for him to book my flight tickets and make other arrangements.
I'd never actually left the country except for travelling up north to Padang Besar near the Malaysia-Thai border and down south of the Malaysian Peninsular, to the Republic of Singapore where I once lived and worked from 1980 till 1986.
Since I had no prior appointments or schedules on the said dates, I agreed to go and sms'd Zainul my details for him to book the Air Asia tickets.
Zainul Rijal emailed me the flight e-tickets and I had them printed out. I then booked myself the ERL train ticket from Bandar Tasek Selatan, near my home to the LCCT.
Early Thursday morning, I boarded the first ERL train to Salak Tinggi and once I reached there transferred to the transit coach to the airport. I prayed my Subuh at the LCCT Surau and then went to have my breakfast at the restaurant nearby.
I then had my luggage screened by the airport police, checked in my suitcase at the Air Asia counter and received my flight boarding pass. Flight AK 9632.
I then went through the Immigration and the airport security scanner. After all was cleared, made my way to the departure area.
Zainul Rijal and his lawyer friends eventually turned up before departure. The flight was delayed by a few precious minutes but eventually we were informed that the plane was ready and we could now board it.
To be continued.