Tuesday, May 27, 2003 (Kuala Lumpur):

Malaysia shelves 'superstitious' TV show

The government has ordered Malaysia's state-run television to cancel a show authorities said could promote superstition in this mostly Muslim country.

The weekly Malay-language show, titled 'Strange But True', featured bizarre displays, such as a claim that headaches could be cured by leaning the sufferer's head against a pole and then knocking on the pole using a traditional Malay knife.

Radio Television Malaysia has suspended the prime time, weekly programme "until such time when it is cleaned up", said Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin.

Zainuddin said the government was concerned that superstitious beliefs could lead people to "narrow political leanings, extremism and militancy and also freeze their thinking".

About 60 per cent of Malaysia's 24 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. The government in this Southeast Asian nation advocates a moderate form of Islam and allows freedom of religion for the large Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities. (AP)