Malaysian Party Calls for Special Court to Deal with Disputes Among Muslims, Minorities

April 8, 2007

Source: International Herald Tribune

Wire Service: AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A small party in Malaysia's ruling coalition has called for the establishment of a special court to deal with loopholes in the constitution that activists say are leading to an erosion of minority rights in this mainly Muslim country.

The court is needed to deal with "various gray issues" in view of the increasing number of cases affecting the religious, family and basic human rights of ethnic Indians and Chinese, who form about 35 percent of the population, Tan Kee Kwong of the Gerakan party said late Sunday.

A series of court verdicts in recent months seen as going in favor of Muslims have strained ethnic relations in this multicultural country, which has enjoyed racial peace for nearly four decades.

"The government must be brave enough to tackle this problem now before things get worse," said Tan, who is the chairman of Chinese-based Gerakan party's interfaith bureau. "There is a problem and it exists. Yet there are some in the administration who pretend that it doesn't," he said in a speech at a party convention.