The largest opposition party yesterday unveiled its plan to make Malaysia an Islamic state, including the introduction of punishments such as stoning and amputation for criminals and a ban on non-Muslims becoming prime minister. \nBut party leaders promised the country's large non-Muslim minorities they would not lose religious freedoms currently guaranteed by the Constitution, or the right to hold other government posts. \nWhile the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party has almost no chance of winning power outright in the national government, the party plays a key role in setting the tone of political debate among the predominant Muslim Malay community. \nIt also controls governments of two of Malaysia's 13 states. \nThe party's blueprint for rule at the national level -- if it ever were to come into power -- has been long-awaited and forms a key part of its platform for national elections expected by mid-next year. \n"We present to you this morning our belief and conviction for how our society can be redeemed and reconstructed," party president Abdul Hadi Awang told 500 party loyalists at the official launch of the plan. \nThe crowd, many wearing Islamic skull caps and turbans, responded with shouts of "Takbir, Allahu akbar!" or "Proclaim God is great." \nThe fundamentalist party is one of Malaysia's oldest and largest political groups, and the biggest challenger to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's United Malays National Organization (UMNO). \nThe party made strong inroads into UMNO territory at the last elections in 1999 and party leaders believe they can win at least one more state in the coming elections. \nSince the last elections, Islam has become an increasingly political issue. \nThe opposition party, which is strongest in conservative, relatively poor rural areas, claims UMNO is corrupt and fails to reflect Islam's tenets. \nUMNO, which relies on the support of ethnic Chinese, Indian and other non-Muslim-based parties to form its ruling coalition, claims the opposition is too radical and is distorting Islam for political ends. \nLim Kit Siang, chairman of the Democratic Action Party, the main ethnic Chinese opposition group, warned that the plan for an Islamic state could create "a new dichotomy between Muslims and non-Muslims." \n"It confirms the worst fears of the non-Muslims in Malaysia," Lim said. "The proposals raised would alter the citizenship rights of both Muslims and non-Muslims." \nAt yesterday's launch, party members also watched video clips which strongly suggested that Western suspicion toward Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US had motivated the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear