The opposition aligns, while the leadership wobbles
The three opposition parties unite in the "People's Alliance", but Islamic law casts a shadow on the real political unity of the new coalition. Urgent requests for prime minister Abdullah, effectively defeated in the last election, to resign.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Three political formations in the opposition in Malaysia have united in a coalition that aims at presenting itself as a valid alternative to the party in power, which is now facing a profound crisis of consensus. The birth of the People's Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) was announced yesterday at a press conference held by Anwar Ibrahim, its de facto leader.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP), the People's Justice Party (PKR) and the Islamic PAS party won a record number of seats in the parliamentary elections on March 8. The three formations also won five states in the administrative elections: Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak, and Selangor. The result has inflicted a harsh blow on the coalition of the National Front (BN), headed by the Umno party, at the head of the Federation for 50 years. And it is leading to instability within the leadership of prime minister Abdullah Badawi. Yesterday, in a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, more than 500 members of the BN asked for his resignation. It is claimed that the change of leadership is necessary to maintain the political "relevance" enjoyed until now by the Umno.
For many years, the opposition was weak and was divided between those who looked to liberal voters in the cities and those - the PAS - who received their support in the countryside, asking for the institution of an Islamic state. The demands of the PAS are now casting doubt on the real unity of the three parties in terms of their ideology and political platform. Anwar, the head of the PKR and a staunch enemy of the prime minister, guarantees that sharia "will not present a problem", but has been unable to confirm whether the PAS has renounced its Islamic ambitions.
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Tomorrow is the first day in court for the lawsuit charging the federal government with violating freedom of expression and religion. The archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur is suing the authorities after the ban imposed on its newspaper against using the word "Allah". Bishop Pakiam: the law is on our side.
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Appeal filed by the politician rejected. At first instance judges had imposed a sentence of five years. A political and judicial case spanning 17 years, against the only man able to counter the government hegemony. Activists speak of "political persecution", the executive spokesman says it was a "fair trial".
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Vigil participants come from different religious background. They meet at the Dataran Merdeka in support of M Revathi, a Hindu woman torn away from her husband and child and forced into an Islamic “rehabilitation” centre. Banners call on the state to respect religious freedom and the right to love.
03/04/2007 MALAYSIAGreat risk that Sharia law might trump secular law (Overview)
A heated debate is underway in the predominantly Muslim country as to which legal system, Islamic or secular, should prevail in cases involving Muslims and non Muslims in matters regarding the family and freedom of conscience. Here are some examples where Islamic law and Malaysia’s Constitution are at odds with one another. The government is paralysed over the matter.