Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday named corruption and Muslim extremism as the main dangers facing his nation. He also called for the creation of a new Malay culture in tune with the modern world, and criticised nationalists opposed to the use of English. His opening address at the annual party conference of the United Malays National Organisation indicated that repeated campaigns against corruption had yet to stamp out the practice. Dr Mahathir, the party president, warned that corruption could stifle Malaysia's growth and destroy its economy. 'Those involved in corrupt practices will face the consequences because they will live in a backward and poor country and will be humiliated by other countries,' he said. Dr Mahathir also targeted extremist religious groups prepared to 'attack and slaughter other Muslims for not accepting their teachings'. If allowed to flourish, they could turn Malaysia into a strife-torn nation in the grip of anarchy and corruption and vulnerable to superpowers, he said. The premier said intolerance in Malaysia had reached a stage where 'zealots have started slandering and branding others as apostates'. The Prime Minister himself has been accused of abandoning his faith for criticising an Islamic court's decision to fine three Muslim beauty pageant entrants for indecency. An Islamic official in Selangor state, where the case took place, warned all women to cover up or face prosecution. In his speech, Dr Mahathir criticised Muslims who focused too much on the 'symbols of religion'. He said the covering of body parts could not suppress lust in Malaysia's multi-racial society. Malays, virtually all of whom are Muslims, account for nearly 60 per cent of the population, while Chinese account for about 30 per cent and Indians eight per cent. Earlier this week, Dr Mahathir met the country's highest-ranking Islamic officials, muftis, to clear 'confusion' over religious rulings. He urged Muslims to give up the belief that poverty in this world would be repaid with wealth in the next. He said that if people did not work hard, were easily contented and extravagant, they had no sense of dignity. 'If we are involved in corruption, if we are engrossed in prosperity and materialism, if we allow people who misuse religion to act wildly, then our struggle for 51 years for our religion and race would be futile,' he said.