Malaysia scored 75% in 'scientific' syariah index: Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak preparing to speak at an event in Kuala Lumpur on March 14.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak preparing to speak at an event in Kuala Lumpur on March 14. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR • Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia scored 75.42 per cent last year on what he calls a syariah index to measure the country's achievements from the prism of Islam.

The index, used only by Malaysia, was unveiled in March as a "scientific" measure in eight fields from education to health, to gauge whether the government's policies and programmes met Islamic standards, The Star newspaper reported yesterday.

Datuk Seri Najib, in announcing the inaugural findings of the index on Monday evening, said the move was not meant to deny or threaten the rights of non-Muslims in the multiracial country.

He said it was an initiative to prove to the world that his administration would continue to uphold and defend good universal values, including that of Islam.

"What we are doing actually reflects the true value of Islam. Our actions are moderate and we respect the rights of others to practise their own faith and culture.

PM'S VIEW

What we are doing actually reflects the true value of Islam. Our actions are moderate and we respect the rights of others to practise their own faith and culture.

DATUK SERI NAJIB

"The syariah index should not be misinterpreted as an attempt to suppress the freedom and rights of the non-Muslims enshrined in the Constitution," he was quoted as saying by Malaysian media.

The government, which has been pushing its Islamic credentials as a vote-getting tactic to strengthen its Malay base, used the index to evaluate eight fields.

It scored 82.5 per cent for education last year, 87.19 per cent for implementation of syariah law, and 65.27 per cent on the economy.

Surprisingly, the index showed that Malaysia scored 79.19 per cent on the political front last year. This was despite the storm of political infighting caused by allegations of corruption against the prime minister.

Mr Najib said that "while the figures are encouraging, we aim to improve our performance to score even higher next year. To do this, we will have to serve the people better, find solutions to their woes and improve their wellbeing".

He was quoted as saying on the Malay Mail Online news site: "Seventy-five per cent and above is very good and above 80 per cent would be excellent. We want to try and achieve at least 80 next year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia scored 75% in 'scientific' syariah index'. Print Edition | Subscribe