Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has said multi-racial harmony in his country is under threat by State-sponsored Islamic puritanism that has damaged the constitutional rights of other faiths in the Muslim-majority southeast Asian nation.
In a recent speech at a regional forum in Singapore, Anwar also suggested that the Malaysian government was using Islamic puritanism to win votes in a general election expected to be held later during 2008.
“The real issue is what I would describe as State-sponsored Muslim puritanism borne more by racist sentiments than religious principles,” Anwar told a gathering at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “It is this kind of theology that leads to the rejection of constitutional freedom of other faiths.”
About 60 per cent of Malaysia’s population of 25 million are Muslims. Christians and Buddhists, who are mostly from the country’s minority Chinese community, make up about 25 percent of the population, and Hindus of Indian origin make up about 10 percent.
Racial harmony between Malaysia’s ethnic and religious groups has recently begun to show some strains as minorities have complained of their rights being encroached upon by court decisions and government policies favouring Muslims.
Earlier in January, Malaysia’s government banned minorities from using the word “Allah” in publications to describe the God of their non-Muslim faiths. Anwar called the ban “ridiculous nonsense”.
“Today, this sense of inclusiveness is under serious threat,” he said. “I’m convinced that Muslims, many Malaysian Muslims too, are equally appalled by this display of narrow-mindedness and intolerance.”
And this is what they will tell you:
“The Barisan Nasional (BN) has a well-tested power sharing system. When Umno is stable with the support of the Malays, the MCA and MIC, which are important strategic partners, naturally also needs to be stable and strong so that we can function effectively in the same system,”
PURE HOGWASH !! In actual fact they are all ‘race-based’ political parties.
And, like all RACE-BASED political parties, they will play the racial card particularly when the General Election gets near, just to garner votes.