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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DAP will support constitutional amendment to ban unilateral conversion



A DAP lawmaker has submitted a motion to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (amendment) Bill (LRA) and put back in provisions to ban unilateral conversion of a child by a parent.
Ipoh Barat MP M Kula Segaran also said his party is willing to back any constitutional amendment necessary to put an end to unilateral conversion.
"My party will fully endorse if there is a constitutional amendment tomorrow," Kula said at a press conference in the Parliament media room today.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz had said that the government will only push for unilateral conversion again once it had the numbers to amend the Federal Constitution.
Nazri said the government would not do so now, as they don't trust the opposition to support the amendment, fearing they would turn it into a motion of no-confidence instead.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching (photo), however, rubbished such concerns, saying that even if this were to happen, nothing would come of it.
"Even if the motion is defeated, is Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak going to resign? No," Teo said.
One reason why groups have opposed Section 88A of the LRA is that it allegedly violates the Federal Constitution.
This is in regard to Article 12(4) which states that "the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian".
Some view the word parent in this clause as singular, meaning only one parent's decision is necessary when deciding a child's religion.
Gov't negated their promise
Kula said the government's move to take out Section 88A had negated their promise since 2009, to find a resolution to the problem of unilateral conversion.
"This is what the prime minister promised, what the cabinet said it would do," the DAP representative said.
He said the move has disappointed many Malaysians, including his client M Indira Gandhi.
Thus, Kula said, his motion to put unilateral conversion amendments back in, was a push to embolden the government to do the right thing.

The proposed Section 88A is as follows:
"(1) Where a party to a marriage has converted to Islam, the religion of any child of the marriage shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion, except where both parties to the marriage agree to a conversion of the child to Islam, subject always to the wishes of the child where he or she has attained the age of eighteen years."
"(2) Where the parties to the marriage professed different religions prior to the conversion of one spouse to Islam, a child of the marriage shall be at liberty to remain in the religion of either one of the prior religions of the parties before the conversion to Islam."
The bill however still maintains provisions that compel a non-Muslim couple who divorce due to one spouse converting to Islam, to go through divorce proceedings in the civil courts. - Mkini

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