Monday, August 6, 2007

Malaysian official allays minorities' religious concerns - AP


Muslim-dominated Malaysia is neither a secular nor a theocratic state, the prime minister said in an apparent bid to make amends after his deputy upset minorities by describing the country as Islamic.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said late on Saturday the country can be best described as a multiracial nation that practices parliamentary democracy with freedom of religion for all.

"We are not a secular state. We are also not a theocratic state like Iran and Pakistan ... but we are a government that is based on parliamentary democracy," Abdullah told reporters after making a speech in the northern state of Penang.

Abdullah's aides could not be immediately reached to confirm the comments.

The prime minister's attempt to take the middle ground comes amid rising concerns among Malaysia's Chinese and Indian minorities that their rights are becoming subordinate to Islam.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak added fuel to fire last month when he said Malaysia is not secular but is an Islamic state that protects the religious rights of minority groups.

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Umno is not racist, says Khairy - The Star

KLANG: Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaludin has refuted allegations by the Opposition that the movement practises racism.

“I don’t understand how the accusation come about – calling us racist. In fact, Umno always emphasises on the power-sharing concept and history has proven it.

“Ijok is a good example, where an Indian candidate was nominated despite a Malay majority in the constituency. This had been repeated in many other constituencies.

“How can we be racist, when we are defending equality?” he asked after opening the Kapar Umno division youth delegates meeting here yesterday.

Khairy also said that Selangor did not need a comprehensive development blueprint from the Federal Government as it was already a well-developed state.

He said such development plans should be channelled to the less developed states such Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

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