KUALA LUMPUR, Reuters
Malaysia’s Islamic opposition party will for the first time appoint an ethnic Chinese representative to its policy-making body in a bid to better understand that community, a newspaper reported on Monday.
The Star newspaper quoted Fadzil Noor, president of the Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), the country’s largest opposition party, as saying the appointment was aimed at better understanding the “sensitivities” of the ethnic Chinese community and was expected this week.
PAS recently angered its allies in the opposition Alternative Front coalition when it said it would close the Genting Highlands gambling resort if it won Pahang state in the next general election, due in 2004.
Leaders of the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) were particularly alarmed by the announcement.
PAS said this weekend they would only close the casino and not Genting’s hotel or amusement park. Ethnic Chinese, most of whom are Buddhist, make up about 25 percent of Malaysia’s population, with Malays and other Muslims at 65 percent and ethnic Indians seven percent.
The PAS has banned gambling and some other forms of entertainment and curtailed alcohol sales in the two Malay dominated northern states it controls. It says eventually it wants to create an Islamic state.