Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak released a statement on his website on Monday saying that ‘protect[ing] the institution of Islam’ is as important as the economic development of the country.
‘I do not see the process of national transformation solely from the angle of increasing income or the value of per capita income which is usually used as a measure of a country's development level,’ Najib said.
‘But its success must be comprehensive and holistic, it must emphasize on the question of spiritual aspect and Islamic development itself and no less important are the roles of Islamic leaders and scholars.’
The statement made clear that there was no role for LGBT people in his vision of Islamic Malaysia.
Najib said 'any deviant aspects such as liberalism, pluralism and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) would not have a place in the country'.
The association of ‘LGBT’ with ‘liberalism’ and ‘pluralism’ shows that the prime minister's real fear is the upcoming election.
‘He’s trying to win over the Muslim conservative votes from another political party PAS (Malaysian Islamic Party), which has been gaining a lot of support in rural areas,’ Malaysian LGBT rights activist Jerome Kugan told Gay Star News.
‘He is lashing out at things that have become religious flashpoints for Muslim conservatives: pluralism and liberalism (freedom of religion and attitudes) and LGBT (freedom of sexuality and gender identity).’
The prime minister is the head of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the biggest party in the Barisan Nasional coalition that have held power since Malaysian independence in 1957. The coalition lost their two-thirds majority in the 2008 general election and the next election needs to be called before March 2013.