Monday, October 1, 2007

PAS Currency Proposal Stirs Debate in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR ( – A proposal by the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) to introduce the dinar and dirham currencies in the northern state of Kelantan has stirred debate in the Muslim Asian heavyweight.

Premier Abdullah Badawi, currently attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Egypt, has criticized the plans, reported the official Bernama news agency.

He asserted that the state governments were not allowed to issue their own currency.

Husam Musa, a senior PAS official, said Sunday, May 21, the Kelantan government would introduce the gold and silver coins within three months.

"The state government employees can choose either to be paid in dinars or ringgit," he added.

Husam, the state's Public Administration, Economic Planning, Finance and Community Development Committee Chairman, stressed the dinar and dirham would not be made the state's official currency.

The dinar measures 4.25 grams of gold, while the dirham is 3.0 grams of pure silver.

Not New

The PAS announced Monday Husam would meet Abdullah to explain in detail the proposal so that the federal government would understand it.

"We will explain our proposal and God willing, we will not violate regulations," Husam said.

The chief minister of the state government of Kelantan also sought to defuse the crisis.

"This is just an idea," Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat told reporters after opening a discussion at a seminar on economy, finance and Islamic banking Monday.

"We have no problems in discussing the matter," he added.

He also said that the proposed was not new because the matter had been discussed by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad while he was still in office.

PAS has controlled Kelantan since 1990 but it suffered a drubbing in the 2004 elections, coming within a whisker of losing to Badawi's UMNO-led National Front.

PAS clung on to the state assembly with 24 seats against the ruling coalition's 21.

It now has a majority of just one seat, which will make it hard to rule effectively and pass legislation.

Malaysia offers the image of a model Muslim country, heading towards the status of developed nation with huge buildings, beautiful cities and a fast track economy.

Abdullah launched on Friday, March 31, an ambitious development plan for Malaysia to become the first developed Muslim nation by 2020


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