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Kuan Yew on the resurgence of Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 16, 2009

FROM THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

SINGAPORE, June 16 — Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday related an encounter with women clad in black from head to toe in the swimming pool of his hotel in Kelantan to show how a society’s culture changed with rising religiosity.

He said the Singapore Government had seen the change in its two closest neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, where more Muslims were now praying five times a day and covering themselves.

The government’s concern is not with specific developments in either of these countries, but with the broader and longer-term trend of Islamic resurgence, he said.

He traced the resurgence to the influence of the oil states, in particular Saudi Arabia for the Sunnis and Iran for the Shi’ites, which have set their more austere versions of Islam as the “gold standard” for other Muslim countries to follow.

Lee visited the Kelantan state capital, Kota Baru, on Sunday. The north-eastern state has been governed by the Islamic-based opposition party PAS since 1990.

While there, he went swimming in the hotel pool and saw some women clad in

black.

“So I stopped at the pillar and went back, but Dr Ng was bolder. He swam into their midst and they waved at him and said: ‘Oh, you’re from Singapore.’

“They were clad, I suppose, in specially made swimsuits, showing only their faces, wrapped up to their wrists and ankles,” he said.

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen accompanied Lee to Kota Baru.

While in Kota Baru, Lee met PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

PAS is part of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance, which won more than a third of the seats in Malaysia’s federal Parliament in last year’s general election.

Lee asked Nik Aziz what PAS’s attitude to Singapore would be if the opposition party were to take over the federal government one day.

The Mentri Besar said he would treat Singapore as he treated the Chinese and Indians who live in Kelantan.

The Chinese in Kelantan can own land and rear pigs, even though the animals are considered unclean by Muslims.

Lee also spoke to Datuk Husam Musa, Kelantan’s Executive Councillor in Charge of Finance and an up-and-coming PAS leader.

Husam told the Minister Mentor that Islam treats all human beings as equal.

“Then he says: ‘Well, we hope one day you will accept Islam as a part of your religion, and we will cooperate’,” Lee said of his conversation with Husam.

“I told him that the Chinese have had their Muslims since the invasion of Genghis Khan… and they’re still not converted, so we left it at that.”

PAS president Datuk Hadi Awang had earlier told Lee that support for the Islamic-based opposition party would grow.

Hadi told Lee that urban Malays no longer believed they were the beneficiary of the “Malay rights” that Umno championed. Instead, they now saw “Malay rights” as a slogan by which the Umno warlords become richer. — The Straits Times

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