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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FMT Poll: ‘Yes’ to non-Muslim PM

Online poll shows almost 70% of respondents were receptive to the idea of a non-Muslim premier helming the nation.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is ready for a non-Muslim prime minister, a 10-day online opinion poll conducted by FMT revealed.

Sixty-eight percent or 2,752 out of 4,065 readers who took part in the poll, which ran from May 20, said that the country was ready for a non-Muslim premier.

Sixteen percent or 667 respondents said that the country was not ready for a non-Muslim prime minister while another 16% or 651 said that they did not care about the religion of the premier.

Many claim that the prime minister must be a representative of the majority race and religion of Malaysia, and hence only a Malay-Muslim can be the head of government.

The religion of the prime minister has been a contentious and sensitive matter as it is closely linked to Islam, whose special position is enshrined and protected under the Federal Constitution.

Several independent constitutional experts have argued that there are no provisions in the Federal Constitution that state the premier must be a Malay-Muslim.

More recently, the issue of the premier’s religion popped up again during the “Christian Malaysia” controversy as highlighted by Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia.

The Umno-owned paper’s unsubstantiated report claimed there was a conspiracy by Christians and DAP leaders to install a Christian prime minister.

This allegation riled up Malay extremist group Perkasa which lodged a police report, clamouring for action to be taken against the “perpetrators”.

The group claimed that although there was no specific provision that says that the prime minister had to be Malay-Muslim, it was an “implied” conclusion.

“If the constitution is read in toto, the prime minister does not have to be a Muslim,” said Perkasa women’s Youth chief Zaira Jaafar.

She added: “Under Article 181 on the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers, we understand that a king has to be a Malay and professes Islam as his religion.”

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