Malaysia Islamic party promises match-making

Earlier stated that ugly women should get public service jobs


Malaysia's conservative Islamic party pledged Tuesday to provide match-making services for older women and cut the cost of dowries in an election manifesto for its stronghold of Kelantan state.

The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which is hoping to retain control of Kelantan in March 8 polls against fierce competition from the government, also promised to boost development in the impoverished state.

"We are providing benefits like match-making and reduced dowry for women, but we have also come up with a plan to address the needs of all people in Kelantan," PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa told AFP.

A party leader caused controversy in the past by saying that ugly women should be given priority in public service jobs because pretty women can find rich husbands to provide for them.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition government is trying to regain Kelantan -- the only state it does not rule -- with plans for a slew of new projects and investment funds if it wins.

At its peak, PAS controlled Kelantan and neighboring Terengganu state which it won in 1999 elections.

However its strict religious line, including a campaign to turn Malaysia into a religious state, and prohibitions on nightclubs, skimpy clothes and alcohol, saw it lose Terengganu in 2004.

It now holds a wafer thin majority in Kelantan, a state considered a key battleground in the polls.