Referring to a Malay Mail report yesterday which quoted Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar as saying there should not be a problem with allowing guide dogs to assist the blind in using public transportation, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said SPAD’s regulations should not conflict with Islamic laws and city regulations set by authorities.
Malay Mail (h/t James R) “The local authorities have set very specific rules governing the breeding of dogs, and these rules include premises that do not allow dogs to be left without a capable owner,” he said. Abdul Aziz said the guide dogs could be an inconvenience for the blind. “What if the dog pees in a bus or in the train? Who will clean up the mess? I fear the other commuters might get angry with the disabled owner,” he said.
Asked about the successful implementation of guide dogs in neighbouring countries such as South Korea and Japan, Abdul Aziz said the countries were not a good comparison because of their (non-Muslim) ethnic makeup.
Stevens Chan, who had brought Malaysia’s first guide dog from Nanjing, China, said the dog was trained to only discharge faeces twice a day at the owner’s instruction. He said that upon instruction, the dog would look for a grassy area to discharge its faeces. “If we are in an unfamiliar place, I would ask someone to direct me to a grassy area for my guide dog to discharge his business,” he said.
Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha pointed out that touching dogs was considered haram under Islamic law, and hence it was inappropriate to use guide dogs, especially in public areas, because of the Muslim majority. “Muslims may accidentally brush against dogs, and dogs and their fur are unclean under Islamic tenets,” he said.
Othman said Muslims were particular about their personal hygiene as it was a fundamental concern in the Islamic religion. “Islamic beliefs and practices cannot be taken lightly according to personal feelings and reasons,” he said. “They must be in accordance with teachings of the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma, and Qiyas that are valid.”