Penang increased budget for Islam, DAP MP tells Najib

Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari pointed out that the Penang state government provided annual allocations to religious schools and yearly payments to religious teachers for the first time. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari pointed out that the Penang state government provided annual allocations to religious schools and yearly payments to religious teachers for the first time. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — A DAP lawmaker countered today Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claims that the secular party was anti-Islam and anti-Malay, pointing out that the DAP administration in Penang multiplied budget allocations for Islam compared to the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari also pointed out that the Penang state government under Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng from the DAP provided annual allocations to religious schools (Sekolah Agama Rakyat) and yearly payments to religious teachers for the first time.

Penang also spent RM20 million to take over land belonging to non-Muslims to use it for a Muslim cemetery, said the Penang federal lawmaker.

“Therefore, it’s clear that Islam is not only respected, but empowered under Pakatan Harapan’s administration,” said Zairil in a statement, referring to the federal opposition pact comprising the DAP, PKR and Amanah.

Najib, who is also Umno president, said in a speech at the opening of the Umno general assembly yesterday that if the Malay ruling party was rejected in the next general election, Malays and Muslims would be at the hands of Pakatan Harapan, which he claimed was dominated by the DAP whom he tarred as anti-Islam and anti-Malay.

Zairil said Najib’s statement was illogical.

“It’s impossible for the Malays to lose power in this country,” he said.

Zairil noted that the Malays control almost all of the public institutions like the civil service, the police force, the army and the judiciary, besides also dominating many sectors in the economy, including government-linked corporations (GLCs).

“In terms of politics and legislature, it’s impossible to challenge the position of the Malays because any amendments that relate to Malay rights require not just a two-thirds majority in Parliament, but also the consent of the Malay Conference of Rulers,” he said.

Zairil pointed out that the DAP was not a race-based party like Umno, which limits its membership to Malays.

“The DAP is a multi-racial party that has Malay representation in every legislative stage in this country—the Dewan Rakyat, Dewan Negara, state legislative assemblies and at the local government level,” he said.

Although the DAP’s membership is not limited by ethnicity, the secular party’s leadership and members at large are dominated by the Chinese.

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