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December 29, 2008

Malaysia Politics:
Anwar’s party denies plan for punitive laws

The political party of former Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim denied Sunday it would push to impose strict Islamic laws, such as punishing theft by amputation, if they come to power, reported AFP.

Speculation has been rife about what Anwar's party would do after a member of his opposition coalition said last week that Hudud -- an area of Islamic criminal law covering punishments for certain deeds -- would be instituted for Muslims in multi-ethnic Malaysia.

The speculation deepened because Anwar has yet to respond to those comments, but a member of his Keadilan party said it had no plans for Hudud in the country.

"Our position is clear," said Tian Chua, Keadilan's information chief, who said Anwar was currently out of the country.

"Islamic criminal laws for Muslims is not part our struggle. It is also not part of the coalition's plan to introduce it when we come to power," he said.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has traditionally been seen as moderate on such issues.

But race relations have been strained by a series of controversial court cases involving the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims, and questions over which group takes precedence.

Anwar repeatedly said he had assembled enough votes to topple the government and seize power after elections in March saw the opposition alliance make significant gains, including winning one-third of parliament seats.

The mass defections from the ruling coalition that he envisioned have not materialised, however.

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