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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dompok says he had told Cabinet to repeal religious conversion bill


A leader of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition expressed disappointment today with the Cabinet for tabling a controversial bill on unilateral conversion involving children, which he said went against the 1Malaysia concept.
United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) head Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said the intention to table the bill is a contradiction to the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation.
"I am surprised and disappointed that this bill was approved by Cabinet for tabling at Parliament," he said in a statement to the media today.
Dompok said that a few months ago, he asked for the withdrawal of a paper on the bill in Cabinet as he felt that an earlier Cabinet decision on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 should be implemented instead.
The bill in question is the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which was tabled on Wednesday.
Two large prominent groups - The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and the Bar Council - have raised concerns on the bill.
MCCBCHST also said any unilateral conversion of  children by one parent is not fair to the minor or the other parent. It added that such conversions are not only unconstitutional but morally and ethically wrong.
They want the key word in the law to remain the plural, “parents”, so that both parents of a minor must agree to any change of religion.
"The present bill appears to contravene the Federal Constitution and runs counter to the government's transformation plans," the former Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities said, requesting for it to be withdrawn from Parliament.
"A full discussion by BN on this issue and related religious issues must also be initiated before any bill is presented to Parliament," Dompok added.

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