Reports: Muslim Malaysia is not a Secular or an Islamic State, PM Says

August 5, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: International Herald Tribune

Wire Service: AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: 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 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. His comments were reported by the national news agency Bernama and all local dailies on Sunday.

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.