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Saturday, June 29, 2013

What type of "national reconciliation" is this? - MCA slams "stealthy" new Islamic Bill

What type of "national reconciliation" is this? - MCA slams "stealthy" new Islamic Bill
I am shocked to learn that the Government is tabling the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill as it contains controversial provisions that affects the constitutional and religious rights of the non-Muslim.
The introduction of the relevant provisions in the Bill has, among other things, vested the jurisdiction to determine whether a person is a Muslim convert / Muallaf in the Syariah High Court. It also empowers the Syariah Courts to rule on the unilateral conversion of infants, even if the conversion was done against the wishes of a non-converting spouse. The provision has run contrary to the collective Cabinet decision on 22 April 2009.
This will seriously and irredeemably affect the religious harmony and national unity of our country.
Religious harmony will be affected
We have gone through enough distress over incidents like the unilateral conversion of infants; snatching of deceased Muallaf bodies; disputes involving inheritance and division of matrimonial assets when a spouse becomes a Muallaf; besides many civil-syariah jurisdictional debates.
A host of issues affecting religious harmony and the legal rights of the people of different faiths were ventilated by the BN leaders and religious bodies then, including consultations with Islamic bodies and MCCBCHST. Hence, the proposed amendment to the relevant Acts of Parliament were discussed and agreed in principle by the BN leaders.
Law-making by stealth & makes nonsense of national reconciliation
I dealt with the disputed matters together with other BN leaders and MCCBCHST then. MCA’s stand is clear: any provisions contrary to the earlier Cabinet decision must be removed from the Bill.
Though MCA is not in the Cabinet, we will pursue the matter through BN mechanism. A senior leader from MCCBCHST has discussed with me the body's grave concerns this morning. I have assured him that MCA’s stand remains unchanged and we will pursue the matter accordingly.
The sudden tabling of the Bill which contains provisions contrary to the Cabinet decision will inevitably be construed as harming the legal rights of the non-Muslims.
I am doubtful that the implication of the Bill has been deliberated in detail before its tabling by the current Cabinet. The tabling of the Bill is tantamount to introducing the laws by stealth and is a terrible disservice to the much-talk about national reconciliation.
Gan Ping Sieu is the MCA Vice President

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