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Malaysia's Islamic opposition blasted for permitting personal attacks in campaign

Malaysia's Islamic opposition blasted for permitting personal attacks in campaign

Malaysia's main Muslim opposition party is allowing its members to make personal attacks against rivals while campaigning for next week's general election, party officials said Friday, despite the government's contention that Islam forbids such tactics.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, told its candidates earlier this week that they can make public accusations about an opponents' misbehavior or personal flaws "based on facts," party secretary general Kamarudin Jaffar said.
"We are all politicians. We are open to scrutiny by the public," Kamarudin said. "There are clear characteristics for (Muslim) leaders ... to live a clean life."
Kamarudin did not say what specific leaders or officials might be targeted with personal attacks, but the party has often accused Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other government leaders of being corrupt and immoral.
PAS is the chief rival of Abdullah's National Front coalition for votes among ethnic Malay Muslims, who make up nearly 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people.
On Thursday, Abdullah criticized the opposition's decision, saying its leadership "teaches people to do things which are improper."
"This is prohibited by our religion," Abdullah said. "I would not go around hurling abuses at other people."
Abdullah urged National Front officials not to resort to personal attacks, stressing that "there must be courtesy in dealing with other human beings."
Both sides are waging a hard-fought campaign ahead of the March 8 elections, with top leaders crisscrossing the country making speeches.
The National Front's campaign is centered on persuading the public that its policies have preserved social and economic stability.
The coalition is widely expected to retain power, but with a smaller parliamentary majority because of public complaints over inflation, crime and racial and religious tensions.
The National Front also hopes to gain control of northeastern Kelantan state, the only one of Malaysia's 13 states ruled by the opposition. PAS has been in power in Kelantan since 1990.


Updated : 2021-08-05 09:20 GMT+08:00