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Monday, August 7, 2017

Explain withdrawal of unilateral conversion bill, BN leaders told



BN component parties must explain if the withdrawal of Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 is sanctioned and approved in the cabinet meeting, said an opposition lawmaker.
DAP MP Teo Nie Ching noted that an informal cabinet panel was set up to look into ways to resolve interfaith child custody battles between Muslim and non-Muslim parents.
Those named as members of the panel were MCA president Liow Tiong Lai, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of national unity Joseph Kurup, MIC president Dr S Subramaniam, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Islamic affairs Jamil Khir Baharom.
Last January, Teo quoted Subramaniam as stating that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had agreed in principle to consider amending the law to prevent children from being converted to another religion without the consent of both parents.
“So what has changed to cause the amendment bill to be withdrawn now?
“Liow, Kurup, Subramaniam, (Gerakan president) Mah Siew Keong and the other leaders of BN component parties should explain if the withdrawal was discussed and agreed upon in the cabinet meeting? And if it is, why they agreed to it?” she asked in a media statement.
“Leaders of BN component parties cannot remain silent or they shall be deemed as agreeing to further jeopardising the rights of all single parents,” she added.
This morning, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman informed the Dewan Rakyat that the bill to prevent the unilateral conversion of minors had been withdrawn.
In a statement, Azalina said the proposal to introduce Section 88A would be scrapped from the bill.
The proposed Section 88A is as follows:
Section 88a. (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.
According to Azalina, the new amendment Bill would be tabled for first reading tomorrow.
The bill was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 21, 2016. But the second reading of the bill has been deferred twice. -Mkini

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