Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, won a reprieve when religious officials who took her into custody ahead of the caning abruptly released her on Monday and delayed the punishment until after the fasting month of Ramadan.
She was sentenced by a religious court last month to six strokes. If the punishment is carried out, she would be the first woman to face caning under Islamic law in Malaysia, a moderate Muslim-majority country.
The mother-of-two has stared down religious authorities by saying she is ready to be caned, refusing to appeal against her sentence, and challenging them to cane her in public.
In an apparent attempt to defuse a furore over the case, Mr Najib said yesterday that while he would not interfere with the sharia courts, which operate alongside the civil courts in Malaysia, there were still avenues for Ms Kartika to appeal.
''I believe the authorities concerned are sensitive on this matter and realise the implications of this case,'' he said.
''I feel the person concerned should appeal to the state authorities and not be so willing to accept the punishment.''
However, Ms Kartika rejected his advice and said that if the authorities did not want to go ahead with the punishment they should say so openly.
''I won't file any appeal,'' she said. ''Carry on and cane me; don't waste my time.''
Source: The Age