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Friday, December 9, 2016


KUALA LUMPUR — Another Barisan Nasional (BN) component party criticised today the Perlis state legislative assembly for amending an enactment to allow children to be converted to Islam with the consent of one parent, saying that the decision will encourage acts of unilateral conversion.
MIC pointed out that the issue of unilateral conversion has been a divisive one for many years, and that the Cabinet has been doing its best to find a solution to the matter.
“The Perlis state government has now opened the door for breast-feeding infants to be snatched from their mothers and be rushed to the religious dept for conversion and be deprived of the mother’s love and attention,” MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said in a statement.
“Whilst the Federal Cabinet has been trying to find a permanent solution to an issue which has been identified as a major thorn in interreligious relationship in this country,this act by a BN government is a major step backward to religious harmony in this country,” he added.
Dr Subramaniam said that Perlis state assembly should not have amended the enactment, and that in its original form both parents had equal rights in determining the religion of a child below the age of 18.
“MIC considers such acts to be against the fundamental rights of the child. Every child has a right to the mother’s love as well as to the mother’s milk.
“Why is the Perlis State digging a grave to this and denying the child of the love of both parents?” he asked.
BN component party MCA has also criticised the Perlis state legislative assembly, saying that the amendment to the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006 contravened the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Bill 2016 that the federal government had tabled in Parliament last month.
The amendment was passed in the 15-seat state legislative assembly yesterday after one PAS and 12 Umno representatives voted for it,
The Star reported that the Malay language version of Section 117 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006 in Perlis had been amended. The phrase in the Malay version reading “father and mother or guardian” was changed to “father or mother or guardian” to consent to the conversion of a child below the age of 18 to Islam.
Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man, who tabled the amendment, reportedly said Section 117 was amended to be consistent with the English version of the Enactment that used the word “parent”.
Section 117(b) states that a non-Muslim may convert to Islam if of sound mind and “if he has not attained the age of eighteen years, his parent or guardian consents to his conversion”.
Azlan also claimed that the amendment was consistent with Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution that uses the term “parent”, even though the 11th Schedule states that “words importing the masculine gender include females” and “words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular”.
Titi Tinggi state assemblyman Khaw Hock Kong from MCA reportedly walked out of the assembly to protest the amendment, while Indera Kayangan representative Chan Ming Kai from PKR voted against it.

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