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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Perlis amends law to allow unilateral child conversion



The Perlis state assembly today passed an amendment to the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006, allowing one parent to convert a child to Islam.
The amendment was to the Malay language version of the enactment, which previously stated that a child who had not reached the age of 18, may convert to Islam with the consent of both "father and mother" or the guardian.
"Father and mother" was replaced with "father or mother" in the amendment to Section 117(b) of the enactment, according to a report by Sin Chew Daily.
The report said MCA's sole representative, Titi Tinggi state assemblyperson Khaw Hock Kong, did not vote while PKR's Indera Kayangan state assemblyperson Chan Ming Khai voted against the amendment.
All other state assemblypersons, 12 from Umno and one from PAS, voted in favour.
Perlis Menteri Besar Azlan Man said the amendment to the Malay language version of the enactment was to harmonise it with the English language version.
Speaking outside the state assembly hall, Azlan was quoted as saying that the English version of the enactment referred to "parent" in the singular.
However, Chan warned the amendment would raise serious conversion issues.
"The state government cannot simply use the excuse of standardisation while ignoring the problems that the amendment will create," he was quoted as saying.
Azlan cited the case of R Subashini versus T Saravanan in 2007 where the Federal Court ruled that Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution allows a child to be converted with consent from one parent.
The amendment appears to run contrary to efforts by the federal government to end unilateral child conversion to Islam.
Putrajaya had in the last Parliament sitting introduced the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Under the amendment, if one parent converted to Islam, the child must remain in the original religion prior to the parent's conversion.
The child may only be converted to Islam if both parents consent to the child's conversion.
The Bill is expected to be debated and voted on in the next Parliament sitting in March.- Mkini

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