Impractical to turn Malaysia into Islamic state: opposition leader

April 25th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 25 (IANS) Malaysia’s newly formed three-party opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) that includes the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Parry (PAS), which is committed to an Islamic state, has said it would strive to retain a multi-racial character. The other two parties in the alliance, which goes to the 12th parliament with an unprecedented 82 members and control of four states, are the Parti Keadalan Rakyat (PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (SAP).

“We must recognise that Islam is the country’s official religion but it is impractical to turn multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia into an Islamic state, everything must be based on the federal constitution,” the alliance’s parliamentary leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in an interview to Chinese language daily Sin Chew.

Visualising a government headed by her husband and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah said it would champion the cause of ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ (people’s supremacy) instead of shouting for ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ (Malay supremacy).

She said: “Although it is PAS’ ideology to create an Islamic state, it can only be practiced in the overwhelming Malay-majority state of Kelantan, and not the whole of Malaysia due to the country’s multiracial makeup.”

In a multiracial society, she said, PKR’s coalition partner PAS will definitely not be able to set up an Islamic state, The Sun daily said quoting the interview Friday.

“The fact is, we all accept that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and the three parties should cooperate within the framework of the constitution,” she said.

“The reality is that the Malaysian society is made up of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minority races, making it impossible to establish an Islamic state.”

Anwar Ibrahim has claimed that many lawmakers of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) want to cross over following the electoral upset last month.

He said his alliance would remove the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by September.

Majority Muslim Malays, the indigenous people called ‘boomiputera’ or sons of the soil, form over 60 percent of the Malaysian population of 28 million that has significant ethnic minorities of 33 percent Chinese and eight percent Indians.

While many Chinese practice Buddhism, there are significant groups of Christians. Tamil Hindus account for over two million and there is a Sikh community of 100,000.

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