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Pig farm plan stirs protests in Malaysia

A plan to build a major pig farm outside Malaysia's largest city has triggered protests by some Muslim residents whose religion prohibits the consumption of pork.

Yesterday, about 200 people carrying banners staged a demonstration outside the Selangor state government's office and handed a protest note to officials.

"We are worried that the number of pigs will increase and the environment will be polluted with the stench of pig waste," a protester was quoted as saying.

Prominent newspapers also published a number of letters from angry Muslims.

Background to the protests was the surprise announcement last week that a MYR100m (USD32 million) pig farm by early next year would be opened on the state's outskirts near Kuala Lumpur.

The state's chief minister, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, is a Muslim, but he is part of a multiethnic opposition alliance that took control of five state legislatures, including Selangor, in last month's general elections.

Even though Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia's biggest pork producers, the subject of pork consumption remains sensitive. The industry is mainly run by the ethnic Chinese.

Abdul Khalid, chief minister, defended the plan, saying it would be environmentally safe and provide a centralised venue for all pig rearing in Selangor.

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