Scandal-plagued Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed support for strict Islamic laws in an interview, reports Reuters.
“We want to develop Islam,” Najib said in an interview with pro-government broadcaster TV3 on Nov. 29.
Najib said it was the obligation of the country’s Muslim population to support a plan by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party to adopt hudud, the system of punishment set up by the Quran.
“Non-Muslims must understand that this is not about hudud but about empowering the Shariah courts,” he said.
Last year the federal government rejected hudud. Since then the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party forged closer links with the United Malay National Organization led by Najib, which led to the party expecting a more accommodating stance on the issue.
Christian groups in Malaysia have voiced their concerns over the renewed effort to allow hudud, even if it is applicable to just one religious community.
Observers say that the bill is a threat to the multicultural country’s secular nature and that past leaders — who promoted a moderate form of Islam — would have stopped such moves.
There have been calls for Najib to resign as prime minister over his alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar global misappropriation scandal involving taxpayers’ money.