SHAH ALAM, Feb 19 — Lim Guan Eng has defended Penang’s new non-Muslim executive council portfolio by pointing out that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Perak maintained a similar initiative in 2009.
The Penang chief minister claimed today that Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir was responsible for continuing such a portfolio when he took over the state administration from Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin after the BN coup in February that year.
“The non-Muslim portfolio (in Perak) created by Nizar was continued by Zambry who gave it to MCA’s Datuk Mah Hang Soon to handle.
“Datuk Mukhriz (Mahathir) said that I insulted islam by setting up such a portfolio. If so it is more serious that a Muslim like Zambry ‘insults’ Islam by continuing with such portfolio,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider today, referring to the Jerlun MP.
The Penang CM then questioned Utusan Malaysia’s motives for attacking his administration over the setting up of the non-Muslim portfolio.
“So why is Utusan attacking the Penang government then?” said Lim today.
On Wednesday, the Penang government announced a new executive council portfolio to handle non-Muslim religious issues in the state, then thought to be the first such portfolio in the country.
However, a Utusan Malaysia report later claimed the portfolio to be a “tool” that can be used to threaten Islam as the official religion of Malaysia.
The Umno-owned Malay daily said the portfolio — which comes under Lim’s purview — could discuss religious conversion, preaching, use of religious terms, construction of houses of worship and cemeteries. These, it said, could be used to put other religions on an equal footing with Islam.
Lim, who attended a PAS convention on Malay rights earlier today, also stressed that the Penang government was neither anti-Malay nor anti-Islam.