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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

A puritan's paradise

Malaysia is opening up a holiday paradise to Western tourists, while denying them the usual earthly pleasures.

Strict Muslim practices are observed in Kelantan province and visitors must not gamble nor drink. If they kiss in public they could face a heavy fine.

If Kelantan does not sound much like the traditional holiday destination, Malaysian tourism officials are not overly concerned. They believe that the absence of anything resembling nightlife should be seen as an asset.

[ image: No bikinis in Kelantan]
No bikinis in Kelantan
Due to the state's strict implementation of Muslim laws, Kelantan will be the perfect paradise for the ascetic. And officials are keen to point out that the absence of booze also means that there will be none of what they call "rowdiness", giving Kelantan the most peaceful beaches in the region.

[ image: No cuddling in the queues]
No cuddling in the queues

Kelantan's puritan attitude is apparent in the most mundane places. Even supermarkets have separate queues for men and women, enabling shoppers to avoid temptation in the fruit and vegetable aisle.

But there is just one more regulation that may surprise visting Westerners - cinemas in Kelantan must show films with the lights on.

The Chief Minister, Nik Aziz, explains: "It's easy to get these films on video and watch them in your own home, so if people go to the cinema it must be for something else. That can lead to adultery and fornication, so we think it's better to switch on the lights."

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