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Mar 5, 2008

Abdullah's Reign at Risk as Malaysian Islamists Stress Poverty

``Abdullah will not be seen as a credible leader'' if Malay support drops off substantially, said Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, international studies dean at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Abdullah counters that corruption prosecutions doubled to 1,317 in 2006 from 663 cases in 2001.

Corruption is a concern for retired civil servant Ahmad Othman, who runs a small palm oil farm in Kelantan. Folding his prayer mat after a two-hour weekly sermon by Nik Aziz, Ahmad said he'll switch to PAS from UMNO at this election.

``Not once have I seen corruption in Kelantan,'' he said.

By Soraya Permatasari and En-Lai Yeoh

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- In the northeastern Malaysian state he oversees, Nik Aziz Nik Mat banned nightclubs and pool halls on the grounds they violate Islamic law.

Now that his party is contesting national elections, he promises a different fight: against poverty and corruption.

Nik Aziz, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party's spiritual leader and chief minister of Kelantan state, and other party leaders are avoiding religious rhetoric as they campaign for national and state elections March 8. PAS, as the party is known, may be the biggest threat to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's governing coalition. more...


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