Blogger: Whatever Muhyiddin says about why the Bill will be withdrawn, the truth is that the Cabinet does not want to face a revolt among BN MPs. Certain MPs from MCA, MIC and even UMNO might have deserted BN to vote WITH Pakatan Rakyat for this ONE CAUSE.
The cabinet at its meeting today agreed to withdraw the controversial Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013, which has been tabled for its first reading in Parliament.
The bill stirred a hornet’s nest for providing that the permission of one parent alone is sufficient to convert a minor.
Two ministers join chorus against conversion Bill
Two ministers have spoken out against a proposed law which allows the unilateral conversion of children to Islam, leading opposition MPs to wonder if the Cabinet even discussed the Bill which was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday.
In a statement, Datuk Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said that clause 107B of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 should not be allowed.
“The provision under Clause 107B is fundamentally unjust as it denies the rights of one parent on the welfare of his or her children, and the children are also denied the protection of their right to receive guidance from both parents as to their wellbeing, ” said Low.
His statement follows comments made by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz earlier today on the controversial amendment which has incurred the wrath of non-Muslims as well Barisan Nasional component parties.
Their concern is based on the fact that non-Muslim men have in the past divorced their non-Muslim wives and converted to Islam, then forced their children to convert too. Sometimes the men converted even before divorcing.
When the controversy over these conversions emerged in 2009, Nazri gave an undertaking that the government would not allow any conversion forced upon a child by one parent. He stood by that position today and said that the proposed new law was unfair to non-Muslims.
Mum’s consent a must for child to be converted
“There’s a specific case where the Prophet Muhammad sent a child back to the mother because the mother did not convert to Islam and only the father did so,” Anwar said.
“We are looking at it (the bill) thoroughly. I have had discussions with (PAS president) Hadi Awang and (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng,” he said.
He said Pakatan was also meeting with NGOs to determine the situation, including Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan.
However, Anwar stressed, the conversion bill should not create a “divide” between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“We will sit with all the relevant parties,” he added.
MIC deputy president Dr S Subramaniam has blamed a translation error for the controversy surrounding the recently tabled conversion bill.
Speaking to the press this morning, he said the Malay version of the bill was not in line with the English version.
According to Subramaniam, the English version of the proposed amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 says the conversion of minors requires the consent of a ‘parent or guardian’.
However, he said the Bahasa version translates the word ‘parent’ to ‘ibu atau bapa’ (mother or father).
“We are stuck with the Federal Court decision and the interpretation of Article 12(4) (of the federal constitution) that pertains to this,” he said.
The article, read with Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule of the federal constitution, expressly provides that all words appearing in the federal constitution which are stated in one gender also include the other gender, and all words in the singular also include the plural.
“The bill is totally new. I think this part was not seen by them (BN component parties). When they tabled it and we saw that particularly Bahasa Malaysia translation was not in line with our current thinking.
“We voiced our views in the cabinet and at the moment we are seeing how we can resolve the issue,” he said.
Asked whether the MIC would vote against the bill in parliament, he said: “I don’t think it will reach that stage.”When further pressed whether this means the bill would be retracted, he skirted the question by saying “there are many options for us” and one of the them is to amend the controversial part of the bill.
Muhyiddin justifies proposed Amendment to Child Conversion Law
The proposal to allow just one parent to convert children to Islam is based on a Federal Court ruling as well as provisions of the constitution, said Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Asked if this is inconsistent with a cabinet decision in 2009 against the unilateral conversion of minors, he said: “Yes, but this is the latest, we will look into it.
“This is according to the court ruling, according to the federal constitution. This is the current scope.”
Kedah Gerakan Youth has threatened to file legal action against the government if Parliament passes the amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories), which allows one parent to convert an underaged child to Islam.
Its chief Tan Keng Liang (left) said Article 12 (2) of the Federal Constitution should be defended at all times.
“If the Bill to amend Section 107 (b) is passed by the Parliament, Kedah Gerakan Youth will not hesitate to challenge the law, as it goes against the spirit of the federal constitution,” Tan said.
MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok wants all 7 MCA MPs to VOTE AGAINST the Amendment to the FT Islamic Law on Conversion of a Minor!
PAS MPs to meet over child conversion law tomorrow
The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) has joined the chorus of calls for the government to withdraw Section 107(b) of the Administation of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 that would allow a parent to convert a minor child to Islam without the consent of the other.
“The MGC wishes to reiterate that any such unilateral conversion of a child by a single parent is not only unconstitutional but is morally wrong and is against good conscience and justice…,” said MGC president Jagir Singh in a statement yesterday.
Furthermore, MGC said it was also opposed to Section 51(3)(b)(xi) of the same bill as it would allow a syariah court to determine whether a person who died was a Muslim or non-Muslim.
“This power to decide on the religion of a person has always been with the civil High Court and matters of interpreting provisions in the federal constitution are with the civil High Courts.
“Thus whenever there is a dispute as to the facts of conversion it must be decided by the civil High Court. The amendment thus proposed is unconstitutional,” he said.
Jagir said the government must either delete both provisions from the bill or withdraw it altogether.
Sunday June 30, 2013
New Bill risky to kids’ identity due to ease of conversion, says IRF
By SHAILA KOSHY
KUALA LUMPUR: The Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) is concerned about the precedent the new Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 will set with regard to the conversion of non-Muslim minors.
They are similarly concerned about the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Syariah Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 that have been tabled for debate during the first meeting of the 13th Parliament.
“We will be reading the Bills very closely in the coming days but as it stands, we are deeply concerned at the precedent they might set, namely in how it implicates the religious identity of non-Muslim minors who can be easily converted by only one of their parents,” said IRF researcher Ahmad Fuad Rahmat.
“This risks leading to more inter-ethnic and inter-religious complications in the future,” he said.
“Additionally, we remain firm that the Constitution should remain Malaysia’s primary legal framework that cannot be overridden by religious laws,” Ahmad Fuad said when contacted.
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 MCA’s seven MPs have been urged to break ranks with the BN and to vote against a move to amend the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Enactment to allow one parent to convert their minor children to Islam.
“I implore on all our seven MCA MPs to vote against this Bill,” MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok (on the left) said today.
“Better yet, I urge all the seven MCA legislators to corral the MPs from other political parties, irrespective of political coalition, to put forward a collective voice against this clearly one-sided (amendment),” Loh said in a press statement.
If need be, he said, he would also raise the issue with the MCA central committee to reaffirm the party’s official stance against unilateral conversion of minor children by only one parent.
Echoing several other BN leaders who have voiced their opposition to the Bill, Loh said the amendment was unconstitutional as the federal constitution required both parents to consent to the conversion of a minor.
Religious faultline Malaysia: Secret conversions
Published on Jun 20, 2013
NOTE: June 25, 2013: We have spoken with Ustaz Zulkarnain who denied advising Puan Deepa to come back the next day to collect a reversal of conversion letter.
We have also attempted to interview the head of the centre, Ustaz Bukhari, who declined to be interviewed.
This is yet another case of unilateral conversion of minors.
Deepa Subramaniam’s husband Viran Nagapan converted to Islam over a year ago, apparently to marry a Muslim woman.
He left her and their two children and according to Deepa, without giving her any money for the children’s upkeep.
Then in April this year, she went to the Paroi religious office to obtain proof of his conversion for proceedings to nullify the marriage, and by sheer coincidence found him and their children, Sharmila 8 and Mitran 5 in the process of conversion.
For an opinion by the President of the Muslim Lawyers Association, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, please go here: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/233589.
According to Zainul Rijal, the federal constitution provided for the consent of only one parent to convert a child to a religion other than that of the parents’ at the time of marriage.
He further went on to say in a statement, that this was based on Federal Court judgments that state that the definition of ‘parent’ in the federal constitution referred to either the mother or the father, and not necessarily both.
“In the Subashini Rajasingam vs Saravanan Thangathory and others (2008) case, the Federal Court agreed with a previous judgment, Nedunchelian V Uthiradam vs Nurshafiwah Mah Singai Annal and others (2005).
“As such, in Subashini’s case, the conversion to Islam of children under the age of 18 by a Muslim father was declared by the Federal Court as right and constitutional,” Zainul Rijal said.
He added that the National Fatwa Council in 2009 had also decided that if one parent converts to Islam, any children under the age of 18 must be cared for by the Muslim parent.
However decisions of the Fatwa Council are not binding on non-Muslims.
There is an amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories), which says that the consent of one parent is enough to convert a minor to Islam, which was tabled in the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.
Lobbyists in cases of dispute over the conversion of minors to Islam claim that case law supports the interpretation of the reference to ‘parent’ in the laws to any one parent, and not both.
If passed, this would allow any one parent to convert a child to Islam.
MIC has echoed its BN partner MCA in expressing “shock” over the bill related to child conversion laws, saying it is “unacceptable” and that they had not been consulted on the matter.
MIC national treasurer Jaspal Singh’s was responding to the Administration of the Religion of Islam Bill (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 tabled on Wednesday.
“This (amendment) is a most dangerous, subversive and anti-constitutional clause that has somehow been inserted into the Bill.
“Clearly there was not a process of consultation with all relevant parties; otherwise we would have pointed out the unfairness of this particular clause,” he said in a statement today.
He said it was “against natural justice” to convert a minor, with or without the consent of the parents.
“This clause is totally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to be enacted into law. If any one parent converts, then the children should still not be converted without the consent of both parents. It is against natural justice to do otherwise.”
He also noted that the proposed amendments provide for the Syariah High Court to determine whether a person is a Muslim or not.
“This power to determine whether a person is Muslim or not has always resided with the civil High Court so that the proposed shifting of this onus on to an Islamic jurisdiction is further evidence of not just creeping, but galloping Islamisation which is a matter of the gravest concern to non-Muslims,” he argued.
Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing described the proposed amendments to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) on the conversion of minors as a “flagrant violation of the equality of persons’ provisions of the federal constitution”.
The amendments, tabled in Parliament earlier this week, by dint of the use of the word ‘parent’ instead of ‘parents’, makes it legal for a father or a mother, or guardian, to convert children below the age of 18 to a religion of proprietary choice.
Bishop Paul Tan wondered if there was not an element of diabolism in the intent of the framers of the amendment who he said knew that the word ‘parent’ can also be construed as a collective noun like ‘crowd’, and hence, when push comes to shove, they could limit its meaning to one of the two progenitors – father or mother – or a guardian.
“This shows the mala fide of the framers of the amendments,” he argued.
“I understand this amendment contravenes a decision by the cabinet announced on April 23, 2009 that a single parent cannot convert a minor,” said the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese.
“If so, this would not be the first time that the cabinet is overridden by civil service functionaries – the main drivers of creeping Islamisation in this country,” charged the Jesuit-trained prelate.
“Truly, it does not come as a surprise to me that a cabinet undertaking on a matter of this importance has been shown to be not worth the vapor it takes to avow it,” expatiated the bishop.
Parent(s) at the heart of dispute over child’s religion
The tussle is over just one word – shall it be “parents” or “parent”?
The government wants it to be good enough for just one parent to decide for a minor to convert religion and tabled the bill for this on Wednesday.
But religious groups and civil society leaders have slammed this move as unconstitutional.
They want the key word in the law to remain “parents” so that both parents of a minor must agree to any conversion of religion.
The amendment to the Federal Territories Islamic law tabled in Parliament for only one parent’s consent to convert a minor will first require an amendment to the federal constitution, says the Malaysian Bar.
Its president Christopher Leong said that the meaning of the word ‘parent’ in the Bill should be in line with the meaning of the same word in the federal constitution – that is to refer to both parents if they are still alive.
“We reiterate that the unilateral conversion of minor children to any religion by a parent, without the consent of the non-converting parent, is contrary to our constitutional scheme,” said Leong (left) in a statement today.
“The 2013 Bill should reflect the meaning of ‘parent’ as contained in Article 12(4) of the federal constitution, read with Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule of the federal constitution, which expressly provides that all words appearing in the federal constitution which are stated in one gender also include the other gender, and all words in the singular also include the plural,” he said.
Unless Article 12(4), which deals with the religion of persons below 18 years old, is amended, then it shall be unconstitutional to violate this principle, he said.
Friday, 28 June 2013 23:02
What type of “national reconciliation” is this? – MCA slams “stealthy” new Islamic Bill
Written by Gan Ping Sieu
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.
Gan Ping Sieu is the MCA Vice President
Friday, 28 June 2013 10:40
Unfair new Bill ‘disguised’ as Islamic law: CABINET HELD RESPONSIBLE!
Written by MCCBCHST
The Malaysian Consuttative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vehemently objects to some provisions found in the RANG UNDANGUNDANG PENTADBIRAN AGAMA ISLAM (WILAYAH-WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN) 2013 tabled in Parliament for its first reading on 26 June 2013 as they affect the Non-Muslims.
The Bill under disguise of lslamic Laws is unilaterally trying to alter the Federal Constitution by translating the word “parent” in the Federal Constitution to mean “lbu atau Bapa” as opposed to “lbubapa”.
Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage – Section 107 (b) “jika dia belum mencapai umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan pemelukan agama lslam olehnya”
This provision would further creates social injustice and is contrary to the constitutional scheme of things.
Cabinet held responsible
We hold the Federal Cabinet accountable for this transgression, that is, in spite of the Cabinet decision of 2314/2013 whereby it was decided that a single parent cannot convert a minor child of the marriage.
Despite that public statement, the Cabinet deem it fit to introduce the above provision in D.R. 112013.|t appears that the Cabinet promise and undertaking on this issue was not sincere.
The MCCBCHST wishes to reiterate that any unilateral conversion of their children by one parent encroaches into the lives of Non-Muslims. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong.
Syariah and not civil court to decide if a person is Muslim or not
We understand that the Bill also provides for Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is a Muslim or not. See Section 51(3Xb) (x) and (xi). This power has always been with the Civil High Court and not the Syariah Court. The amendment thus proposed is unconstitutional.
The MCCBCHST, therefore calls upon the Cabinet to withdraw the above Bill, until its provisions have been thoroughly debated by all the stake holders.
Any bull dozing through of the Bill will not be accepted and would also be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy peacefully through other legal channels locally and internationally.
Read the whole letter in