Malaysia's Islamic-run state to strictly separate lines for men, women in supermarkets

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia's only state run by the Islamic opposition party will get stricter about enforcing separate lines for men and women at supermarkets, an official said Tuesday.

Authorities in the northern state of Kelantan – governed by the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party – will fine supermarkets and shops if they let men and women use the same lines at checkout counters, said party spokesman Anual Bakri Haron.

Chief Minister Nik Aziz Nik Mat has called for stricter enforcement “to safeguard the ladies” from being harassed and to avoid close proximity between opposite sexes while lining up to buy groceries, Anual said. “He wants the enforcement to be looked into thoroughly.”

Kelantan is the only Malaysian state governed by the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. The rest are ruled by the National Front coalition, which is made up of various parties representing Malaysia's different ethnic groups.

The coalition is dominated by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's United Malays National Organization party, which draws its support from the ethnic Malay Muslims who account for 60 percent of the country's 27 million people.

The Islamic opposition party, which has ruled Kelantan for more than 17 years, imposed the separate lineup rule as part of its agenda to promote Islamic values. In recent years, however, people ignored the regulation, and there was little enforcement.