By P Ramasamy
Unlike PAS, fair-minded Muslims will have no problem in supporting the proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 that will forbid the unilateral conversion of non-Muslim children to Islam.
Under the proposed amendments to the above law, even if one parent converts to Islam, the children from a civil marriage will remain in the religion of their birth until they attain the age of 18.
There are non-Muslims as well Muslims who are concerned and disturbed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill that seeks to upgrade the Shariah court.
Therefore, it is wrong for PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan to single out non-Muslims for criticism. It is not that non-Muslims want to interfere in Islam but the proposed amendments to the Shariah law have far-reaching consequences for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Takiyuddin should be careful in saying that if non-Muslims oppose the private member’s bill than Muslims would oppose the proposed amendments to halt unilateral conversion in the country.
The proposed amendments to block unilateral conversions are about a law that should be fair to non-Muslim parents and children. Under the existing law, conversion of one parent to Islam would be sufficient to convert the children. We have seen how such a conversion has caused havoc on families and marriages in the country.
Whether Hadi’s private member’s bill will be debated and eventually passed in parliament remains to the seen. But what is clear is the fact that PAS has gone to extreme political lengths by cooperating with Umno, its traditional enemy, to ensure that bill could be eventually passed.
Now if Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could chair the meeting to explain the bill to Muslim MPs then one should know that without the backing of Umno, Hadi’s bill will never see the light at the end of tunnel.
Malaysian are wondering whether the bill is proposed by PAS or Umno or whether Umno is leading the former on a golden path before abandoning the party after the conclusion of the next general election.
It is not as if PAS is not aware of the past betrayals of Umno. In fact, there are too many to speak of. But again and again, PAS in general and Hadi in particular, continue to make the same mistake of trusting Umno.
Non-Muslims have the constitutional freedom to comment on matters that might affect them and their children in the future. It is not that they want to oppose Islam just because they are professing faiths other than Islam. Similarly, the opposition to Hadi’s bill is not just from non-Muslims alone; there are Muslims who are opposed to the bill.
PAS, as a responsible political party, should cease from engaging in racial and religious profiling. Such an attempt does not augur well for the good of the country.
P Ramasamy is deputy chief minister II of Penang. -FMT