KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has spoken out against the Muslim-only launderette issue, saying that such exclusivity is wrong.
"I don't believe in exclusivity, let there not be a launderette only for Muslims. I think that's wrong," said Datuk Seri Najib on Saturday (Oct 21).
Speaking at an event held in conjunction with the Malaysia Chinese Youth Summit 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Najib said he believed that Malaysians should however have a choice as long as it did not create a rift in the country's diverse society.
"There should be choice, you don't want to go to a particular restaurant because you think it's not halal, it's your decision," he said.
"Muslims have their own set of beliefs but we cannot impose this on non-Muslims. As long as you don't disturb us we don't disturb you."
The Prime Minister explained that maintaining harmony and unity in multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia was a key priority for him and the Government.
"As your Shou Xiang (Prime Minister) I will continue policies that are moderate and progressive. I believe in national unity and national harmony," he said.
Responding to a question on his plans for Chinese schools, Najib said the Government treats vernacular schools equally with national schools.
He said the Government spends RM 2.5 billion (S$805.9 million) a year to fund the operating expenditure for Chinese schools.
He said the Government has also agreed to set up new Chinese schools in areas where the Chinese population has increased.
"The Minister of Education is in discussion with the president of the MCA and the president of Gerakan to look into this matter," he said, referring to the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, both Chinese-dominant parties which are part of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Najib said he had recently promised that the matter would be considered by the Government in a positive manner.
"The Minister is now working this matter out and there will be an announcement to show that under the Barisan Nasional, we will promote more Chinese schools in areas where there is demand," said Najib, who is also chairman of BN.
On another issue, Najib addressed the various criticisms thrown against the Government on a number of subjects, including over the management of national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
Najib said he was criticised for appointing Christopher Mueller to Malaysia Airlines.
"When Peter Bellew resigned I was also criticised. Now that we've appointed a Malaysian they should be happy, they wanted a Malaysian in the first place," he said.
"The trouble with them (Opposition) is that everything we do they take the opposite view, whether it is right or not it doesn't matter," said Najib.