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Monday, April 17, 2017

Subra, Liow must explain silence over LRA deferment

MP SPEAKS | A week ago, I had asked a question: was there a BN consensus principle to defer amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) 1976?
MIC president Dr S Subramaniam and MCA president Liow Tiong Lai, who were also involved in the efforts to get the issue resolved via law amendments in the Parliament, have remained silent.
There was also no protest from them when the deferment was announced recently. Their total silence is rather baffling.
In my statement dated April 10, 2017, I described the government’s move to defer the amendments, which were tabled in November last year and meant for debate in the just concluded Parliament sitting, as most sad, unfair and irresponsible.
Many, like M Indira Gandhi, have suffered for years due to the practice of unilateral conversion of minors.
The cabinet realised the problem and decided, back in 2009, to put a ban to such practice. But its decision is not effective unless the necessary legislative amendments are made.
The government took seven long years to finally table the necessary amendments in the Parliament last year and these were to be debated in the just concluded Parliament sitting.
Yet the government that has dragged its feet for so long decided to make the heartless decision of deferring the bill.
Worse, there was no firm commitment that the bill would be tabled in the next sitting of Parliament.
Why are MIC, MCA silent?
The government’s decision to defer the amendments ought to have been met with protests from MIC and MCA, yet they have remained silent. Why?
Last year, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said Muslims would oppose amendments to the LRA if non-Muslims continued to interfere with the proposed amendments to syariah law. (He was referring to Hadi’s bill that seeks to give syariah courts power to mete out heavier punishments, short of the death sentence.)
“We must play fair. Don’t interfere with the rights of Muslims and make it difficult for us.
“If you want to play this way, then we too can work against the proposed law reform,” Takiyuddin told a press conference at the party headquarters on Nov 29 last year.

Subramaniam and Liow have to explain their silence on the deferment of the LRA amendments. Silence is not golden on this issue.
They will also have to answer an important question that the public wish to know: When the BN supreme council agreed that the government should not take over the tabling of Hadi’s bill, was there an agreement and a compromise that the LRA amendment bill would be deferred?

M KULASEGARAN is DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP and lawyer for M Indira Gandhi.- Mkini

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