Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013

The Single Parent Child Conversion Debate, 2013

1

Published: Tuesday July 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Tuesday July 9, 2013 MYT 10:48:42 AM

Politicians laud withdrawal of controversial conversion Bill
KUALA LUMPUR: The withdrawal of the controversial Bill which contained a clause that allows a parent or guardian to unilaterally convert minors, has received the thumbs up from politicians from both sides of the divide. MIC deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam welcomed the decision to retract the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 as “there are still provisions that need further scrutiny”. “That was an administrative decision and we (MIC) suggested some amendments that went through the process but not in entirety. We have to take another look at it,” he said. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom had earlier tabled a motion to withdraw the Bill in the Dewan Rakyat. Dr Subramaniam, who is Human Resource Minister, said the Cabinet encountered administrative obstacles when deliberating the Bill, such as getting feedback from the religious authorities and consent from the Conference of Rulers. “We have to look at how to overcome these obstacles to ensure we can achieve this in the best possible way,” he said. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the retraction of the Bill was a good move and would enable more views to be sought.

2

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup also lauded the decision and said it proved that the Government was sensitive towards the views of non-Muslims. “The Government would continue to take proactive actions when tackling issues that could negatively impact the country’s unity.” DAP adviser and Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang said the retraction of the Bill showed that there were clearly no full and proper discussion in the Cabinet on the matter. “There should have been full discussions and a consensus before any Bill of that nature can be tabled,” he said. The Bill was tabled for the first reading in Parliament on June 26. Various groups had voiced their opposition to the Bill, which included a controversial provision allowing a child to be converted with the consent of only one parent. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Bill would be withdrawn until an agreement was reached with all stakeholders. He said the Cabinet decided to withdraw the Bill from the current Dewan Rakyat meeting following concerns from various quarters, including Barisan Nasional’s component party members.

Government not pressured to withdraw conversion Bill
BY HASBULLAH AWANG CHIK JULY 08, 2013 The government did not cave in to pressure from certain parties to withdraw the controversial conversion bills from Parliament, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. He said the Cabinet had unanimously agreed to withdraw the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 before the second reading in Parliament.

3

"It was done to protect the interests of all quarters involved and to refine the Bill. The Act will remain and any amendment to it will only be done after everyone has their opinions and views recorded and we have discussed it with them," he said. The government, he pointed out, believed that Islam was fair to everyone and discrepancies that arose from a child's religious status should be resolved based on Islamic principles. Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. Earlier today, Jamil Khir told Parliament that the government was withdrawing the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. He also said the government was withdrawing two other bills – the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013. The Cabinet had, on Friday, decided to withdraw the Bill, which concerns unilateral conversion of minors. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet had extensively reviewed the Bill, which was first tabled at the Dewan Rakyat on June 26. - July 8, 2013.
Published: Tuesday July 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Tuesday July 9, 2013 MYT 10:47:15 AM

Chua: Clarify how conversion Bill was allowed to pass, causing unnecessary disputes
PETALING JAYA: Non-Muslim Cabinet members should give the people an explanation as to how they allowed the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to be passed unanimously by the Cabinet, said MCA. Its president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said although they welcomed the decision by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to withdraw the Bill, he said the Bill had triggered many unnecessary controversies. “The move to withdraw the Bill shows that the Government listens to the people and that it has heeded the people’s aspirations.

4

“However, I believe that the Bill was thoroughly deliberated in the Cabinet before it was tabled for first reading in Parliament. “I cannot understand how the non-Muslim Cabinet ministers were not aware about the differences in using the term of ‘mother or father’ and ‘parents’ in Section 107(b) of the Bill until it was passed by the Cabinet for tabling in the Parliament,” he said yesterday. He said the move would also cost the Barisan Nasional Government its image, therefore the non-Muslims Cabinet members have the responsibility to explain to the public. “We also support the call that Section 95 of the Administration of Islamic Laws (FT) Act 1993, which also uses the same wordings of ‘mother or father’, and other relevant state enactments, be amended so that conversion of a minor would need the consent of both parents,” he said. Various groups have voiced their opposition to the Bill, which includes a controversial provision allowing a child to be converted with the consent of only one parent. The Bill was withdrawn yesterday from Parliament following a motion by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. Two other related Bills – the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 – were also withdrawn. MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said it was good the Bill was retracted in the interest of religious harmony. “Now we will have more time to iron out what’s not accepted by all races,” he said adding that MCA wants the word “parent” (ibu atau bapa) in the Bill to be replaced with “parents” (ibu dan bapa), in line with the Federal Constitution.
5

MCA blasts non-Muslim ministers for not stopping ‘Conversion’ bill in cabinet
First Published: 5:38pm, Jul 08, 2013 Last Updated: 5:38pm, Jul 08, 2013 by fz.com PETALING JAYA (July 8): The MCA today blasted non-Muslim ministers for allowing the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to be passed by the cabinet. Party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said this when welcoming the government’s move today to withdraw the bill before its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat. Section 107(b) of the bill, which allows conversion of minors to Islam with the consent of just one parent, was strongly objected to by both government and opposition non-Muslim MPs as well as by many NGOs, including a few Muslim groups. Chua said the bill was “thoroughly deliberated” in the cabinet before it was tabled for first reading on June 26, and he “could not understand” why the non-Muslim cabinet ministers had not raised objections. “The non-Muslim cabinet ministers should give the people an explanation as to how they have allowed such a sensitive bill which involves the conversion of minors to be passed unanimously by the cabinet,” he said in a statement. The MCA is not represented in the cabinet after the party chose to stay out due to its poor performance in the May 5 general election. The bill was withdrawn from Parliament this morning after a motion by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. Two other related Bills - the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 - were also withdrawn. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the bill would be withdrawn until an agreement is reached with all stakeholders. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/mca-blasts-non-muslim-ministers-not-stopping%E2%80%98conversion%E2%80%99-bill-cabinet#ixzz2YSv9h7wS

Soi Lek blames non-Muslim ministers on conversion Bill
Malaysiakini – 1 hour 7 minutes ago

6

Following the withdrawal of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 in Parliament today, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek demanded an explanation from the non-Muslim ministers on why they allowed such a Bill to be passed in the cabinet. He had believed that the Bill was thoroughly deliberated in the cabinet before it was tabled for first reading in Parliament. "I could not understand how the non-Muslim cabinet ministers were not aware about the differences in using the term of 'mother or father' and 'parent' in the Section 107(b) of the Bill until it was passed by the cabinet for tabling in the Parliament. "The non-Muslims cabinet ministers should give the people an explanation as how could they allow such a sensitive Bill which involves the conversion of minors to be passed unanimously by the cabinet," he said in a statement today. Unnecessary controversies Chua said such a move had triggered many unnecessary controversies and this would also affect the BN government's image. "Therefore the non-Muslim cabinet members have the responsibility to explain to the public," stressed the former health minister. After its abysmal performance in the recent general election, MCA has decided not to accept any government post including the four ministerial positions conventionally reserved for the Chinese party. Chua ( right ) said MCA welcomed the decision to withdraw the Bill. "This shows that the government listens to the people and that it has heeded the people's aspirations." He added that MCA also supports the call to amend Section 95 of the Administration of Islamic Laws (FT) Act 1993 which uses the same wording of "mother or father", and other relevant state enactments to ensure that a conversion of a minor would need the consent of both parents.
MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013

Gov't withdraws three FT Islamic Bills
7

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-iS3RmYz9Gw Ram Anand 10:16AM Jul 8, 2013 PARLIAMENT The government has withdrawn all three Federal Territories Islamic Bills which had been slated for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat today. One of these had proposed the controversial conversion of minors based on the consent of just one parent.

Jamil Khir Baharom (left), the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, informed the House of this at the start of the sitting this morning. The move affects the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013, and Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013. Section 107(B) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 had proposed that either parent could convert a minor to Islam. The Bill has caused much discontent, with even BN component parties MCA, MIC and Gerakan opposing the provision. The proposed clause also contradicted the 2009 cabinet decision not to allow unilateral conversion by either parent.

~ Malaysiakini

After storm, Putrajaya yanks child conversion law
JULY 08, 2013UPDATED: JULY 08, 2013 12:09 PM

The disputed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was withdrawn in Parliament today. — AFP pic

8

PETALING JAYA, July 8 ― Putrajaya retracted the disputed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 from Parliament this morning, yielding to criticism that it was attempting to legislate unilateral child conversion to Islam that the Cabinet had prohibited in 2009. Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom filed to have the Bill withdrawn, along with two others. Jamil Khir was also the minister who tabled the proposed laws last month. Speaking to reporters in Parliament this morning, Jamil Khir said the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 were also withdrawn. He did not, however, provide the reasons for their withdrawal. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement here that Cabinet had discussed the matter at length and decided to retract the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 pending further study. He was reported by national news agency Bernama as saying that the issue of a child’s religious status, particularly in cases where either the mother or father is Muslim, should be discussed thoroughly among all relevant stakeholders before it is turned into law. “The Cabinet had agreed that the retraction of the Bill was necessary to ensure that the issue on the determination of the child’s religion in such cases was resolved in a fair manner for everyone,” he was quoted as saying. All further amendments to the law contained in the Bill would also be retracted for now, he added. The uproar over the proposed law was such that it even saw rare public division over the issue within Cabinet, with ministers Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, Datuk Paul Low and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz all publicly speaking out against the Bill. The attempt to legislate single parent consent for child conversion to Islam had caught the attention of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and Bar Council shortly after it was tabled, with both calling the move unconstitutional. The MCCBCHST went a step further and slammed the Cabinet as “insincere” for introducing the law despite a 2009 announcement by then law minister Nazri banning the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.

9

Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/after-storm-putrajayayanks-child-conversion-law#sthash.P8qPymYZ.dpuf

Controversial conversion bills pulled out today
J ULY 08, 2013

Three bills related to the controversial issue of the conversion of religion of minors were withdrawn from Parliament this morning. Of the three, the one that drew the most fire was the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which would have allowed for one parent to convert the religion of a minor to Islam, even if the other parent objects. The Bar Council, among others, criticised this as going against the Federal Constitution. The other two related Bills which were withdrawn at this morning's Dewan Rakyat sitting were the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013. - July 8, 2013.

Conversions: Please obey the Holy Quran
July 8, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail According to some persons learned in the religion of Islam, compulsion in Islam is legitimate and can or must be enforced by man-made laws. Other Islamic scholars quote the Quran to show that there is no compulsion in Islam. Of the two, which is correct? A non-Muslim finds the compulsion version abhorrent while he would readily accept the no-compulsion version which makes sense as there was no compulsion during the Prophet’s days, and neither in the Holy Book. Anyway, no one has quoted from the Holy Book to prove there is compulsion in Islam. But why is there no consensus among the Muslims on this issue?

10

For the sake of discussion let us compare one’s religion to membership of a club. In religious matters one does not have to fill up an application form at birth to take up any religion. One’s religion at birth is determined by the parents’ religion. To be a club member one has first and foremost to be an adult, for only adults can enter into contracts. One has to apply for membership and pay the necessary dues. Any time after that the member can decide to leave the club for whatever reason and join another club. There is no compulsion; nothing to say that once you have joined a certain club, you cannot leave and join another of your choice. If “A” believes that only those of his religion will go to heaven after death, does that give him any right to compel others to convert to his religion? He could persuade them, but surely not compel. So why should “A” make it his business to compel others, if need be through laws, to take up his religion or be prevented from leaving it? Or has “A” been promised, rightly or wrongly, that if he gets to convert someone to his religion, regardless of how it is done, or to prevent someone leaving it, a great reward is awaiting him in the hereafter? In that case, desirous of ensuring that reward, he becomes overzealous and forgets that his Holy Book says that there is no compulsion in religion. This scenario would be reminiscent of young people recruited by direct sales companies who approach consumers and market their products through misrepresentations and staged dramas (e.g. in “scratch and win” cases), all for the sake of the reward that awaits them – their commissions. Personally, I feel that people should “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Let each decide his own religion. It is something very personal. All the time, energy and money being spent on the “conversion” issue would be better spent on improving the moral character of our society so that there is less crime, less corruption, no more dumping of babies born out of wedlock, no more mat rempit menace, better school discipline, etc. These are the real problems of the country that need to be tackled, not religion. It is heartening that the Cabinet has decided to shelve the controversial Bill “for further study”. What further study is needed? The Cabinet should be guided by what is in the Holy Book. If the Book says “no compulsion” then there must be no compulsion and all other similar legislation passed by the States must also be withdrawn to be consistent with the teachings in the Holy Quran.

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/07/08/conversions-please-obeythe-holy-quran/#sthash.Yi9wJlsY.dpuf

Hidden agenda and it’s not just about ibubapa
July 5, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Joe Chandler, via e-mail The recent amendment to clause 107 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (FT) Act 2013 has attracted a lot of attention in regards to the singular or plural meaning of Parent or in Bahasa the

11

meaning of Ibubapa to Ibu atau Bapa. I am sure we are all aware of this and the reaction of the public towards this. I will not go into the pros or cons or the fairness in this whole issue but just to say that, the child should follow the religion of the parent who is awarded the custody of the child. There is no need to discuss or have a public forum about this as it relates the conversion of a child to Islam, in which case the parents would have either adopted Islam as their religion or would have filed for divorce and custody of the child. The divorce should and must be based on family law considerations. It’s only logical since the child will be with the parent who has won custody. Religion should be secondary as the primary issue is the well being of the child to be brought up by the person most suited to provide better care and love. I am more concerned about the implication on social order and my fear is that this is an engineered condition to attract a desired reaction. Let me try to explain this, it may be just my distorted view of this government or perhaps some elements that may be important to look at. Its up to you to interpret this piece. This issue was actually settled in 2009, when cabinet declared that in such cases, the child shall remain in the religion of the parents at the time of their marriage. (This solution in my opinion would still have problems should both parents adopt different religions altogether) a bill was put through and failed to get the rulers consent and the bill was never seen again. Now the government has decided to reinitiate the bill in the current form in reliance of a case law decided on December 2007 in references to Subashini’s case where article 12(4) the word parent is to be given a singular meaning, needing only one parent for conversion purpose. This is a problematic solution since any conversion to Islam automatically put this in Syariah courts jurisdiction and any decision favoring the non muslin parent would be hard to come by. The big question I am asking is this, The government knew about Subashini’s case in 2007 and yet in 2009 came out with a decision to allow the child to remain in the religion of the parents at the time of marriage but now in 2013, suddenly makes a u-turn and relies on this 2007 case to formulate a bill that incorporates this decision. This to me will only have one desired result. Which is putting non-Muslims in direct confrontation with Muslims. Something I believe is also designed to shake the position of PAS dominance in preaching Islamic practices. Should the Bill be presented, MPs of both political devide must decide religion or policy should prevail. The consequence is that Non-Muslim BN MPs will have to either choose to support the bill and risk the backlash from their local communities or choose to oppose the bill. This will ultimately result in a situation of Non-Muslims vs Muslims. I think this is one of the strategy the government has in raising the sentiments of the Malays against the non Malays. Even in the PKR and PAS camps this will a be situation that would be difficult to react as not supporting it would be seen as un Islamic and supporting it would mean alienating Non Malay support for these parties. Its good to note that PKR, PAS and DAP has choose to consult each other before any decision is made but what ever decision it comes by would have caused significant damage to its self. I am sure and the government know well enough that their component party members will vote against the bill paving the way for Umno to initiate their Malay (Muslim) propaganda against the others and I believe Perkasa role will be much more visible from then on.

12

This caution stems from the fact that race and religion card has always been played during the entire campaign by the government specifically Umno and knowing that Umno did well on its own with little help from Component members might have allowed this strategy to commence. The whole strategic planning is to draw a racial divide between Muslims and Non Muslims so that the concept of divide and conquer can be used against the citizen of Malaysia. This is a more sophisticated strategy to gain the Malay momentum it lost during the last election. This is the reason why I predict the next elections will be within three to four years time. I also trust more schemes and strategy are being planned out to cause distress to our communities to distrust each other. Please be vary of media reports by mainstream channels for possible insinuations and the Opposition pack must react immediately to counter all racially motivated persuasions. Many Malays hold their religion very close to their heart and some scholars have said that the difference between a Muslim and non-Muslim is that the Muslims live with their religion where else the rest practice their religion, hence the difficulty by the moderate Muslims to discourage fanatism and misinterpretations of a beautiful religion.

The government is intending to use this bill to gauge the sentiment of Malays before their next move and its best for all Opposition think tanks to come together and prepare contingency plans to counter any use of religion as a mode of attack by the government, namely Umno. It would be sad to see the racial harmony and togetherness that Pakatan has managed to bring about in Malaysia to be shattered by the same game plan used in 1969. Good Luck to all of us - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/07/05/hiddenagenda-and-its-not-just-about-ibubapa/#sthash.MFiDbZkH.6StJS10V.dpuf

Tweak Federal Constitution to be in line with Islamic law, mufti suggests
JULY 07, 2013

Muslims offer prayers during Aidilfitri at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur on August 19, 2012. — AFP picPETALING JAYA, July 7 — Parliament should amend the Federal Constitution to make it a better reflection of Islamic law, Pahang Mufti Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman said today in the wake of a row over the conversion of minors to Islam.

13

Conservative Muslims have been pressuring the government to push through its bill to amend the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) to allow a single parent who is Muslim to convert his or her child who is below the age of 18. “If we see any Acts in conflict we must discuss again, review until it fulfils syara’,” the senior cleric told Sinar Harian Online, and added, “... perhaps the Constitution should be amended if it doesn’t follow syara’ or Islam.” The Najib administration withdrew last week its proposal to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which it had tabled in the Dewan Rakyat just days earlier after drawing widespread complaint by non-Muslim groups as unfair and disagreement from some ministers. Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was introduced in Parliament on July 3. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who had announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, speaking out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, as then minister in charge of law, Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. Several other conservative Muslim clerics have insisted that any child whose parent embraces Islam must follow suit, but Abdul Rahman’s remarks appear to take the matter a step further. However, he said his suggestion was in accordance to the country’s supreme law. “From what we understand, the official religion of the federation is Islam, so what has to be done has to go back to Islam,” he was quoted as saying by the Malay news portal. “If we follow federal law if the child has not passed 18 years of age even though he has reached the end of puberty he cannot change his religion, but in Islam according to the syara’, if the mother or father is Muslim, the child must follow the Muslim mother or father,” Abdul Rahman reportedly said. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/tweak-federalconstitution-to-be-in-line-with-islamic-law-mufti-suggests#sthash.mJhmh56Q.dpuf

14

Govt ‘cannot simply bulldoze’ Conversion Bill
Queville To | July 7, 2013

The federal government should discuss the proposed amendments to the Conversion Bill openly in cabinet, says Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Pairin Kitingan.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah deputy Chief Minsiter Joseph Pairin Kitingan wants the Federal government to be more considerate when amending laws which would have “serious” implications on the people. “The Federal Government cannot just simply force a law onto the people without studying the implications it will have,” said Pairin who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president. He asserted this while responding to the proposed amendment to Section 107(B) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to allow just one parent to convert children to Islam. He opined that any Bill which has the effect of curbing people’s liberty must be thoroughly and openly scrutinized before it is passed by Parliament. “This Bill does not look like a straight forward one as there are matters which have to be considered and taken into account. “It is not as simple as bringing it up in Parliament and expect everyone to pass it. “This is something that involves freedom of religion that is enshrined in the Constitution and in this case it involves minors who are not matured enough to make their own decisions yet especially when it comes to religion” Pairin explained. Pairin pointed out that in the case of mixed marriages, the parents have to wait for the child to attain the age of 21 to make up his or her mind on which religion to follow. He further noted that in the case of a minor, he or she does not have a say as the parents or guardians will decide after discussing the matter and coming to an agreement. “This is not something that you can just look at and say ‘Yes’ to.

15

“We cannot just allow this to happen as the freedom of choice of a person must be considered. Therefore the federal government should consider having it properly discussed within the cabinet itself,” he said. He further stressed that this Bill cannot be simply bulldozed through in Parliament and it must be looked at properly like the GST Bill. Last Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had assured that all parties would be consulted before making any decision on the Bill. But on Friday, Muhyiddin said that the Cabinet has decided to withdraw the Bill pending a thorough feedback from all stakeholders. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/07/govt%e2%80%9ccannot-simply-bulldoze%e2%80%9d-conversion-bill/#sthash.dleZoIjb.dpuf
Updated: Sat, 06 Jul 2013 07:04:47 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Malaysia withdraws controversial oneparent conversion law
Malaysia has withdrawn an Islamic law which allows one parent to give consent for the religious conversion of a child, reports said Saturday, after an outcry that it discriminated against minorities.
The government has previously considered amending existing legislation so that children's conversion requires the consent of both parents. Conversion is a sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority nation where members of minority faiths say they do not get a fair hearing under religious courts in custodial cases. A 29-year-old Hindu woman recently claimed her estranged husband converted their children to Islam without her knowledge after embracing the religion last year. Under Sharia law, a non-Muslim parent cannot share custody of converted children. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the cabinet discussed the issues surrounding the status of a child's religion when the mother or father converts to Islam, reported the Star newspaper. "We agreed that the bill's withdrawal was necessary to ensure that such cases were resolved in a fair manner to all," he said. Public pressure has prompted the government to withdraw the law, said Tian Chua, an MP with People's Justice Party led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

16

"If the law had been pushed through, it would definitely cause tensions in society because the law seems to favour Muslims while other minorities would be denied justice," he told AFP on Saturday. The now withdrawn law had come under fire from minority religious groups when it was introduced last week. Interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism had said in a statement that the Federal Territories Bill -- effective for the capital Kuala Lumpur -- was unconstitutional and should be withdrawn. "Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage," it said. The Malaysian Bar Council had also said that "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". More than 60 per cent of Malaysia's 29 million people are Muslim ethnic Malays, but it also has sizeable Chinese and Indian minorities. Nine per cent of the population are Christians, including 850,000 Catholics. Conversions of children and "body-snatching" cases -- where Islamic authorities tussle with families over the remains of people whose religion is disputed -- have previously raised tensions in multi-racial Malaysia, where religion and language are sensitive issues.

Don’t turn Parliament into a joke
LEE SHI -I AN J ULY 06, 2013

The government should consult MPs from both sides of the political divide before proposing to table bills only to withdraw it later amidst much criticisms and being left red-faced. The Parliament is the highest decision-making body in Malaysia and would not have been subjected to such humiliation if the government had followed proper procedures. The much-criticised Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013, which had been tabled for its first reading in Parliament, was withdrawn yesterday. Malaysiakini reported that Penang Gerakan legal and human rights state bureau chief Baljit Singh expressed support for DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh's view. Karpal had said in the interest of humanity, such an amendment should secure the support of all MPs on either side of the divide.

17

Karpal had echoed Baljit's view that the vote should be taken according to "conscience" as both sides of the political divide should remove their whips and allow their MPs to vote according to their conscience. "Input from all parties is necessary as this issue will affect all levels of society and different communities," Baljit said. "It is time to put aside our differences and come together to resolve such crises so that in future, all bills will be discussed and all parties consulted before it is tabled in Parliament." "To table a proposed law first and then argue over it, is like putting a cart before the horse." The withdrawal of the controversial unilateral conversion bill is insufficient as the root point of contention has yet to be resolved, Baljit added. Baljit said the problem would probably resurface if it was not snuffed out completely. He said rounds of consultation with all quarters was necessary in order to put the matter to rest once and for all. "All the relevant stakeholders from both sides of the political divide must come together, discuss the bill and amend the Federal Constitution to ensure that no child can ever be converted without the consent of both parents." Yesterday, deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the cabinet had agreed to withdraw the much-criticised bill, which had been tabled for its first reading in Parliament. The contentious part of the bill includes the unilateral permission of only one parent alone to convert a minor. It has come under fire from various quarters, including those from the BN, including Baljit and Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang, who planned to challenge the government in court if the law was passed. The amendment refers to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories), which allows one parent to convert an underaged child to Islam. - July 6, 2013.

Conversions: Karpal to table private member’s bill
Athi Shankar | July 6, 2013

Although the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 has been withdrawn DAP chairman Karpal Singh will table a private member's bill to solve the problem once and for all.

18

GEORGE TOWN: DAP chairman Karpal Singh will table a private member’s bill in the Dewan Rakyat next week to amend Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution to stop the unilateral consent of a parent in deciding a minor’s religion. The bill will seek to amend the clause in the Article from either parent to both parents or guardian. He said the government’s withdrawal of the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 would not solve the problem affecting non-Muslims. Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said the controversial bill was being withdrawn for now until a consensus had been reached among all stakeholders on the issue. Karpal argued that unless and until the Article 12(4) was amended, the problem was far from over despite the withdrawal. Currently Article 12(4) states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 is to be decided by parent or guardian. Karpal called upon all PKR and PAS MPs, totalling 51, to join DAP’s 38 MPs to support his bill to find a permanent solution to safeguard public interest. He admitted that Pakatan Rakyat had not taken a common stand on the issue, although elected representatives had voiced their personal views on it. Karpal also called upon all 133 Barisan Nasional MPs to support his bill. He cited that the Federal Court ruled in a 2007 case that the use of a singular word ‘parent’ in Article 12(4) rendered the consent of a single parent enough to validate the conversion of a minor to Islam. The landmark decision was made in the Subashini Rajasingam case, in which the plaintiff’s husband, who converted to Islam, converted their child without her consent. “Giving the rights to a single parent will lead to injustice. It should be both parents,” Karpal told a press conference during his visit to his Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency here today. He cited an example in which a non-Muslim father could convert to Islam as well as all his children under18, leaving the mother with no choice.

19

He added that the non-Muslim mother would face a difficult situation to enforce her parental rights as she could not seek justice at the civil court if the father was a Muslim and also at the Syariah Court because of her non-Muslim status. “Once and for all the Federal Constitution must be amended to overrule the Federal Court decision.

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/06/karpal-totable-private-members-bill/#sthash.l4HXHcbd.dpuf

Change Muslim conversion law to make it constitutional, Putrajaya told
BY DEBRA CHONG ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR JULY 06, 2013

PETALING JAYA, July 6 — Merely retracting the contentious Bill on Muslim child conversion from Parliament is not enough for Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong who wants the government to revise the existing federal law to require consent from both parents. The lawyer said section 95 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 is also against the Federal Constitution and must be changed to provide for consent from both parents for the conversion of their child below age 18. "In reconsidering and re-looking at the draft Bills, the government should bear in mind that the proposed clause 107 and clauses 51(3)(b)(x) and (xi) of the proposed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill are unconstitutional. "The Bill therefore should provide that the conversion of minor children must be with the consent of both parents, and that the questions of whether a person is or is not a person professing the religion of Islam or was a Muslim at the time of his death must be decided by the Civil Courts," he told The Malay Mail Online today in a text message. Putrajaya hastily withdraw its bid to enable the Muslim parent in the Federal Territories to convert his or her child to Islam yesterday, after several ministers and non-Muslim groups voiced their unhappiness with the proposal. The proposed amendment to clause 107 of the Islamic law has been given much attention, due in part to the recent publicity in April of a Negri Sembilan Hindu mother's attempts to keep custody of her two children from being converted by her estranged husband who turned Muslim a year ago.

20

Less high-profile but just as controversial is the proposed change to the second clause, which if passed by the Dewan Rakyat, would have granted the Syariah Court the power to decide if a person is Muslim or not in cases of dispute, which have appear to be increasing in recent years. A significant number of cases have cropped up upon a person's death, with the deceased's nonMuslim family tussling with state Islamic officials -- who claim the dead was Muslim and must be buried according to the creed's rites -- for custody of the body. Malaysia practises a dual-track justice system where Muslims are bound by both secular and Islamic laws but non-Muslims have legal recourse only in the civil court. "The civil courts are the proper place, not the Syariah Court," Jagir Singh, deputy president of the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), told The Malay Mail Online in a phone interview. He called on the government to consult the religious minority groups before making any further tweaks to the legislation. Jagir said the non-Muslim interfaith council had in 2005, sent the federal government a memorandum on the issue, but claimed that the matter appeared to have been forgotten, resulting in disputes down the road. "We hope it won't be introduced again," he said. Jagir said new Unity Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup had initiated a closed door meeting with the MCCBCHST earlier this week in a bid to address their concerns, but declined to speak further on the issue.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/change-muslimconversion-law-to-make-it-constitutional-putrajaya-told#sthash.JS3LFjRu.dpuf

Islamic scholar smells fishy deal in conversion law proposal
BY ZURAIRI AR JULY 06, 2013

21

Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa. — Pic by Choo Choo MayKUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Islamic scholar Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa accused Putrajaya today of having an ulterior motive for pushing through a controversial proposal to enable unilateral child conversions to Islam right after Barisan Nasional (BN) won the polls in May. The Cabinet had proposed a law in the Federal Territories allowing a Muslim parent to convert his or her child below age 18 to Islam without the consent of the non-Muslim spouse, but it was retracted yesterday following an uproar from non-Muslims and disagreement among the ministers. "For them to come up with this right after the election has some ulterior motive. Why is it that it was disclosed right after the elections? The work has been done before election," said Dr Farouk, who is the chairman of think-tank Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF). Last week, former minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok claimed that he had asked for the Bill to be withdrawn months ago, and was surprised that it was being tabled in Dewan Rakyat last week. "A few months ago I asked for its withdrawal as I felt that an earlier Cabinet decision on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 should instead be implemented. "The Cabinet paper was withdrawn, and I am therefore surprised that it is now in Parliament," the United Pasokmomogun Kadazan Dusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) president said in a statement. Dr Farouk today claimed that BN lawmakers had kept the Bill until after the elections as they could not afford the fallout from the proposed amendment. "I think they were scared to disclose the bills before election they may face repercussions. They knew they won the elections," he added.

22

The country's supreme law states that Islam is the religion of the federation, but is handled separately by each of the country's 13 states and their respective rulers, leading to a conflict in regulation and enforcement. The controversial amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, however comes under federal control and requires the vote of MPs in parliamentary. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws. Non-Muslims are not subject to Islamic law.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/islamic-scholar-smellsfishy-deal-in-conversion-law-proposal#sthash.2M5eUKza.dpuf

Minorities lose out as Malay parties feud using Islam, forum told
BY ZURAIRI AR JULY 06, 2013

23

Lawyer Malik Imtiaz said the creep of political Islam started during Tun Dr Mahathir's administration. — Pic by Choo Choo May KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — A race between the Umno and PAS for political control has led to the rise of Islamisation of the bureaucracy and the decline of the rights of Malaysia's minorities, three Muslims said today in a public talk on the secular aspect of the Federal Constitution. The power struggle between the two opposing Malay parties began in the early 1980s and has escalated recently as politicians from both sides attempt to "out-Islam" each other to win the hearts, minds and votes of the multiracial country's largest community, the speakers suggested, leading to the erosion of the minority rights. "Shifting landscapes have led to a point where Islam, about 10 to 15 years ago, became political currency," human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said at a forum by the Bar Council on "How Secular is Our Constitution?". "As far as I understand it, around mid 1980s Islamic race started between Umno and PAS... That happens within the same timeframe as the dismantling of justice," he added, ostentibly in reference to the 1988 judicial crisis when the courts were stripped of their independence as a separate arm of government. Malik said the creep of political Islam started during the administration of Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which resulted in a nationwide crackdown against government critics in 1987 in the operation known as Ops Lallang. The lawyer also pointed out that Dr Mahathir had declared Malaysia as an "Islamic country" in 2001. “Umno wishes to state loudly that Malaysia is an Islamic country. This is based on the opinion of ulamaks who had clarified what constituted as Islamic country. If Malaysia is not an Islamic country because it does not implement the hudud, then there are no Islamic countries in the world,” Dr Mahathir reportedly said in a political speech at the Gerakan party’s national delegates conference on September 29, 2001. The country's longest-serving PM had single-handedly negated the secular pronouncements made by his predecessor Tun Hussein Onn and the country’s founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. In that same year, the Supreme Court decided that a Muslim who wanted to stop being one was required to get an exit order from the the Syariah Court. Malaysia's justice system runs on two tracks, the civil courts and the Islamic courts. Controversies arise when jurisdiction overlaps, such as in the cases of conversion of minors to Islam by one parent in soured marriages, the most recent being a case in Negri Sembilan where

24

a Hindu mother sought the court's help for custody of her child after her estranged husband embraced Islam a year ago and attempted to convert their child. The government had also come under criticism after it bid to push through Parliament a proposal to the law empowering a Muslim parent to change to his or her child's religion to Islam without consent of the non-converted spouse. Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, the chairman of think-tank Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) also shared Malik's opinion, alleged that the start of Islamisation was the result of Malaysians enamoured with the 1979 Iranian revolution. "The problem is not only with the Islamic party. The problem is also with the ruling party," Dr Farouk said, referring to Islamist party PAS and Malay nationalist party Umno. According to Dr Farouk, there will be "no stone left unturned", as the Malay-Muslim political parties seek to redefine the meaning and essence of Islam to further their grasp. Syarie lawyer Nizam Bashir claimed that despite equality and freedom of religion are fundamental in Islam, the powers that be are hesitant in upholding secular values. "If I'm called to speculate, I imagine this has got to do with power and wealth. Without conflict, you can't accrue power and wealth," Nizam said. The three panellists voiced concern over the rise in moral policing, and the insistence for Muslim Malaysians to adhere to a monolithic, state-sanctioned version of the religion. Malik said there has been a rise in religious extremism from a group of Malay-Muslims who have been stripped of their other identities, suggesting they likely felt the need to cling to religion. "There is a need to consistently project aspects of a particular ethnic root, to constantly underscore this 'us and them'. One of the way that is manifested is a show of Islam in public sphere," he said. The lawyer said the idea of "Malay supremacy" needs to be distinguished, and a perspective of equality will then settle. But Dr Farouk said Malaysia can only be turned "Islamic" if two-thirds of the Parliament agree to a constitutional change. "We have to ensure that we do not give two-thirds majority to anybody, because of this particular situation. Not even to the Pakatan Rakyat," he said, of the opposition pact consisting of the Islamist PAS, the urban-based PKR and the mostly Chinese DAP. Malaysia has grown increasingly divided over the years as seen in the recent May 5 polls that saw city dwellers cast their support for the opposition pact and the rural electorate vote to keep the Barisan Nasional coalition in power.

25

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/minorities-lose-out-asmalay-parties-feud-using-islam-forum-told#sthash.yQq17Ng7.dpuf

Muslim child conversions nationwide must be consistent, says lawyer
BY ZURAIRI AR JULY 06, 2013

Lawyer Malik Imtiaz speaking at a public forum KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Putrajaya must step in and revise the varying state laws on child conversion to Islam consistent with each other and with the Federal Constitution, human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said today. The Cabinet had retracted yesterday a proposed law in the Federal Territories allowing the Muslim parent to convert his or her child below age 18 to Islam following an uproar from nonMuslims and disagreement among the ministers. "I welcome it," the former head of the Human Rights Society of Malaysia said, of the government's withdrawal of the contentious law it had tabled last week in Parliament. "But the government should look to take this further to ensure that all laws uniformly reflect this thinking to the extent that the government can, and in coordination with some states," Malik told

26

reporters at a public forum titled "How Secular is Our Constitution?" at the Bar Council's auditorium here. The country's supreme law states that Islam is the religion of the federation, but is handled separately by each of the country's 13 states and their respective rulers, leading to a conflict in regulation and enforcement. Malik pointed out that the conversion criteria were inconsistent and depended wholly on the state. Some states, like Penang, required the consent of both parents before a child can be converted to Islam, while in neighbouring Kedah, the state's Islamic law specifies the consent of either parent, which is conventionally taken to mean the Muslim parent. The controversial amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, however comes under federal control and requires the vote of MPs in parliamentary. Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution also states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 shall be decided "a parent or guardian", but according to Malik, is taken to refer to both parents. "I think the Attorney-General has a very big role to play in this process in ensuring that there's consistency with the Constitution," Malik said. Putrajaya agreed yesterday to withdraw the controversial law permitting the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam following the uproar expressed by non-Muslim groups and politicians across the divide. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who had announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, spoke out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muslim-child-conversionsnationwide-must-be-consistent-says-lawyer#sthash.UO8CrTFB.dpuf

Scrap conversion bill totally, says Penang BN leader
Susan Loone 12:45PM Jul 6, 2013

27

A Penang BN leader is not satisfied with merely withdrawing the controversial conversion bill, saying this is “insufficient” as the crux of the problem has yet to be resolved and would probably resurface if not snuffed out completely now. State Gerakan legal and human rights state bureau chief Baljit Singh (left) said that rounds of consultation with all quarters are still necessary in order to put the matter to rest “once and for all”. “Merely withdrawing the bill is not going to solve the problem, the concerns are still around,” he toldMalaysiakini. “What needs to be done is for all political divides to come together, discuss the bill, contribute to the arguments and amend the federal constitution to ensure that no child is converted without the consent of both parents,” he added. Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the cabinet agreed to withdraw the much-criticised Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013, which has been tabled for its first reading in Parliament. The contentious part of the bill includes the unilateral permission of only one parent alone to convert a minor. Earlier, the bill seemed to be headed for tabling in Parliament on June 26 but was whacked by many quarters, particularly those from the BN, including Baljit and Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang who planned to challenge the government in court if the law was passed. The amendment refers to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories), which allows one parent to convert an underaged child to Islam. Baljit expressed support for DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh’s view that in the interest of humanity, such an amendment should secure the support of all members of Parliament on either side of the divide. Karpal had echoed Baljit’s view earlier that the vote must be taken according to “conscience”. Baljit reiterated that both sides of the political divide must remove their whips and allow their MPs to vote according to their conscience. ‘Putting the cart before the horse’ “Input from all sides on the bill is necessary as the issue will affect all levels of society and communities,” he said. “It is time that we come together to resolve such crisis and in future, all bills should be discussed and all parties consulted before tabling in Parliament,” he suggested. “It is putting the cart before the horse to table the proposed law first and then argue over it,” he added. “Also, it can be rather embarrassing for the government to withdraw bills after so much criticisms when they have stated that it would be tabled in the highest decision-making body of the land,” he stressed.

28

Bill on minors' conversion to Islam withdrawn Muhyiddin
By Rahmah Ghazali | rahmah@nst.com.my NST

KUALA LUMPUR: The cabinet has decided to withdraw the proposal to allow the conversion of minors to Islam by just getting one parent's approval, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
In a statement today, Muhyiddin said the cabinet has made the decision to withdraw the proposed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, to ensure that any religious decision made is fair to all. “We also want to give time to the government and all parties to review the bill holistically and will only re-table the bill once we achieve a consensus,” he said. The proposed amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 had been tabled for its first reading at the Dewan Rakyat.

Read more: Bill on minors' conversion to Islam withdrawn - Muhyiddin - Latest - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/bill-on-minors-conversion-to-islam-withdrawn-muhyiddin1.313669#ixzz2YElBZ7qI

Pakatan MPs and the art of not making a decision
10:31AM Jul 6, 2013 YOURSAY ‘It appears that almost all Muslim MPs in Pakatan magically lose their abilities to take an unequivocal stand on a matter impacting non-Muslims.’ MPs coy over stand on unilateral conversions Anonymous_5fb: What is there to be coy over, briefing or whatever, to make up your mind on unilateral conversion? To me, it's a straightforward issue that unilateral conversion is not right and against natural justice. I would advise these Muslim MPs to think of the issue if such a thing happens to your own child - what would you do? Don't be afraid to stand up for what is right. A wrong is a wrong, don't let your beliefs shackle your thoughts. My4HOPE: Comparing Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar to all these ‘seasoned’ Muslim MPs, a simple stand of right or wrong, just or unjust, clearly shows what makes a true leader. It is the courage to stand by truth. May these Muslim MPs answer this: Can you accept any compulsion to convert your children into another religion? Abasir: Based on this report, it appears that almost all Muslim MPs in Pakatan magically lose their abilities to take an unequivocal stand on a matter impacting non-

29

Muslims. This is very indicative of the character of these people who wish to replace the BN regime. Perhaps the popular line "you can take a fellow out of Umno but you can't take Umno out of him" holds some truth after all. In this regard, Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz and former law minister Zaid Ibrahim et al are truly the principled mavericks they have appeared to be. One of the more interesting facts to have emerged from this 'legislative' debacle is that lawmakers professing Islam and who periodically spout verses in Arabic for theatrical effect are wondering if the proposed nonsense is "in line with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad". While this Prufrockian doubt is in itself a curiosity, it is even more curious that common decency, an abiding sense of fairness and empathy for affected persons of other faiths have no place in their hearts and minds. Malaysians now need to reflect whether these are the people best suited to take over from the current regime, or whether change (when it happens) will merely be a case of the same old nasty Umno hooch in new bottles. Hamid: Abasir, your considerations about the politicians from the opposition are the same as what many others have thought. Only very few politicians from the opposition and others have shown their stand in this case. Is it not that the case itself has again proven that politics and religion does not mix well? Just see what happened during the past year in Egypt and for that matter in a number of other Middle Eastern countries. Anonymous_VV: Right values should be respected. When individuals due to political pressure are evasive of the truth and rightfullness of a situation, it becomes untenable. The sandiwara speaks for the character of the party. There are plenty of devils in the religious field and when human values are lost we are back in the Middle Ages where eventually might becomes right. Joker: If one were to ask which of you are defenders of Islam, all these Muslim politicians would clamour to be first in the line. When asked whether Islam supports this 'one parent conversion', everyone keeps quiet and becomes non-committal. Why? Is it because they themselves are unsure about what the Quran says? Is it due to differences in interpretation of the Quranic teachings? If no one is sure, then how can they properly defend Islam? The Quran says there is no compulsion in Islam. In Malaysia, once you accept Islam as your personal religion, you cannot leave it. When a child is blessed into a Muslim family, that child automatically becomes a Muslim. Isn’t that compulsion? One must remember only in Malaysia is there such a law of 'deemed Muslim'. It is a human enacted law, not a Quranic law. Hang Tuah PJ: Firstly, MPs, you were not voted in to be coy about issues. Take the

30

bull by the horns and remember, you were voted in by Malaysians, not Muslims only. Secondly, Nurul Izzah says she understands the need of some Muslims to ensure the faith and moral position of Islam is defended at its "utmost". But Islam is not under threat here. The non-Muslim children are. Sheesh, what a bunch of idiots we voted in. I am disgusted and I am a Muslim. For those wishing to convert, if you really, really want to be a Muslim, be prepared to sacrifice for Islam; including letting go of your past. Anonymous_5fb: Certain people have a strong devoted belief, but they have no wisdom. This happens to all religions, not just Islam. When this happens, what we would see are fanatics all over the place. Wira Our: Muslim politicians are holding on to the old and tested adage by Lord Falkland: ‘When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision’.

Umno forced to eat humble pie on conversion bill
10:20AM Jul 6, 2013 YOURSAY ‘Next, demand an RCI for electoral fraud because having foreigners vote to determine the future of the country cannot be taken any less lightly than the unilateral conversion of a child.’ Cabinet withdraws controversial conversion bill FellowMalaysian: The amendment to section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act is seen as being disrespectful to the non-Muslim communities and its proposal has created such an uproar that even coalition parties within BN, which usually acquiesced to Umno's command, has sounded their collective displeasure and indignation over the tabling of this amendment bill. DPM Muhyiddin Yassin's latest announcement in withdrawing this inflammatory amendment is welcomed by the public, especially by those mothers who fear the inherent and potential harm that such a law may pose to the well-being of her children should their marriage turned sour. Muhyiddin's intervention is seen as an opportune respite in mollifying the intense distress that this bill has created, but such harrowing and onerous religious issues could only be resolved if the government is sincere, courageous and benevolent enough in doing so. Odin: Muhyiddin, you said that in the R Subashini vs T Saravanan case, the Federal Court interpreted the word 'parent' in the singular. DAP MP Karpal Singh has said that the said court was wrong in that instance. I totally agree with him. Quite beside the fact that provision has been made for the interpretation of all words appearing in the federal constitution which are stated in one sex to also include the other sex, and that all words in the singular to also include the plural forms, it is obvious to me that the judges concerned were misled by the word 'guardian', which

31

is singular, that as it is singular, then 'parent' is also singular. But the 'guardian' of a person (a child or an incapacitated or an incompetent adult) is always regarded or referred to in the singular form, even if he is a man who is married and has a wife. Quigonbond: A full bench of the Federal Court should be constituted to review the Subashini case. Because of Subashini: 1. Husbands abuse the lacuna to wrest custody from their wives by converting to Islam; 2. The federal government is seen to support cynical conversion and false devotion to Allah; 3. It makes a mockery of the gender equality provision in the constitution by treating husbands better than the wives. We don't want another five years to go by while this issue continues to fester. All minority parties in BN should also realise that with a weakened BN, they better buck up in terms of demanding transparency, accountability and fairness in all of future cabinet decisions. It is incredible they took so long to finally grow a backbone - if they did that post2008, Pakatan Rakyat would not have gathered strength. Now that Malaysians know when enough cabinet ministers speak up and things can change, the expectation can only grow. Next must be to demand an RCI for electoral fraud because having foreigners vote to determine the future of the country cannot be taken any less lightly than the unilateral conversion of a child. Vijay47: I hope that Muhyiddin and the rest of his gang are not looking forward to applause and adulation from a grateful Malaysia. There is nothing to be thankful about as this shameful bill should never have been tabled in the first place. The whole world is progressing and moving ahead while thanks to morons such as these, Malaysia is travelling in the opposite direction. Compliance with the supreme law, fairness, and basic decency were discarded by Muhyiddin and that equally contemptible Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. All this in the name of religion merely to ensure the continuance of a criminal regime. Crass politicians aside, that excuse of a person supposedly learned in law, that miserable attorney-general should be sacked. Why did he not from the very beginning advise against the bill knowing that it was in contravention of the constitution? Expecting him to resign will be a never-ending exercise in futility. What must he do for him to be dismissed? Abasir: Vijay47 has expressed, both eloquently and accurately, the sentiments felt by all outraged Malaysians. Perhaps the only point I could add is that Pakatan's Muslim parliamentarians must be

32

heaving a loud and collective sigh of relief considering the quandary they found themselves in - having to publicly choose between what is decent and what would bring political dividends. Shame on them! Elsewhere, I had commented the following, a comment worth repeating at this juncture: One of the more interesting facts to have emerged from this 'legislative' debacle is that some Pakatan lawmakers professing Islam and who periodically spout verses in Arabic for theatrical effect are wondering if the proposed nonsense is "in line with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad". While this Prufrockian doubt is in itself a curiosity, it is even more curious that common decency, an abiding sense of fairness and empathy for affected persons of other faiths have no place in their hearts and minds. Malaysians now need to reflect whether these are the people best suited to take over from the current regime or whether change (when it happens) will merely be a case of the same old nasty Umno hooch in new bottles. Paul Warren: And now, I challenge the individual states that have this same laws applicable within to start the process of repealing the said identical act. I challenge Hannah Yeoh, the speaker of the Selangor State Assembly to host such a proposal. I challenge CM Lim Guan Eng to do the same in Penang. If you guys can't do this at your state level repeal this act, then forever hold your peace on this matter. Aries46: Earlier in supporting its tabling of the amendment bill, Muhyiddin said it had been discussed at length in the cabinet, that it was based on a Federal Court decision and constitutional provisions, etc. Now in withdrawing the bill, he says the cabinet has decided to withdraw the bill due to various views considered by the component parties. Whatever it is, those who spoke up on the demerits of the bill need to be complemented for a job well done. Onyourtoes: Why are we praising the cabinet for withdrawing the bill? Why are we not asking why the cabinet has introduced the bill in the first place? Was the cabinet blind? Was the cabinet out of sync with the people of this country? Was the cabinet deliberately doing it to "test" the reaction of the people? Was the cabinet doing it to see how far they can go bullying Umno's partners in BN? Was the cabinet doing it to create disunity among the Pakatan component parties?

Asri is right, compulsion to convert is abhorrent
7:56AM Jul 6, 2013

YOURSAY 'Surprisingly, religious authorities here do not care, they just want to see more Muslims and are not concerned whether these are genuine ones.'

33

Watchtower: Religion cannot be forced on someone. How can the parents admit their children to the Islamic faith when the children cannot understand what they are being subject to? It is the duty of the parents to teach their children in the way of the parents' faiths, and let the final decision to embrace any faith be left to the children when they come of age. Yes, former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, you have said it rightly and justly. Jbguy: Compulsion to convert is abhorrent. No religion will compel someone to embrace its teachings or practice for this will not bring true belief. Single parents who convert to win custody of their children are not true Muslims. Surprisingly, religious authorities here do not care, they just want to see more Muslims and are not concerned whether these are genuine ones. FairGame: Religion is all about an individual's beliefs and faith. What is the purpose of one professing a certain religion, but deep down is a corrupt crook or murderer? Again, the feeling here is that Umno is trying to create this issue to divide the rakyat. How else are they to rule when Malaysians are united and can see through their dirty tactics? Orphans: Why this compulsion for children? I am very surprised. Once the children reach 18, they will learn from the world what is happening and can decide for themselves which is the best religion for themselves. The most important thing is to take care all human beings without looking at their religion. Sad Malaysian: I agree. Human beings cannot be forced into religion. They may submit to you for a while but later they will leave the faith, or worse, give a bad image to the religion. My4hope: While nations worldwide are striving hard to find solutions to improve their economy in view of tough challenges ahead, our government has been the source of many agendas to further sabotage and sap the nation's strength. How are we able to tackle these imminent crises as so much energy is being wasted on such forever divisive issues? AngryBird: As long as Umno remains in power, one can expect more of such things to happen in future.

Karpal: Federal Court ruling grammatically wrong Odin: DAP chairperson Karpal Singh is absolutely right. The phrase "shall be decided by his parent" is indeed grammatically wrong, unless the word "parent" has been previously described or defined to mean "father" (or "mother").

34

If the person who drafted the article had meant only one of the parents (obviously it is two), he would have written "shall be decided by either one of the parents"; and if he had meant the father (or mother), he would have written "shall be decided by the father (or mother)". Mr KJ John: If the actual wording is as shown in the report - i.e. ‘his parent' - then this translation also only applies to ‘boys' and not to ‘girls'. Or, is there a definitions section for the constitution, where these generic words are clarified? Angelababy: In the federal constitution, singular includes plural and vice-versa in the same way that the male gender is to include female. Otherwise if given literal interpretation, then it would mean only males are affected by article 12(4) since it states "his" only. Pro Bono: Section 4 of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 states that in any "written law" (including the constitution) words in the singular include the plural. So the singular "parent" will include the plural "parents". Karpal can justify his view on this section. Touche: What are we to expect from Umnoputras and their judges? Simple English and yet they cannot interpret and understand. "His" in the constitution is obviously generic and "parent" means plural. Otherwise this clause is not equitable, as by the same logic it would not apply to girls since it refers only "his". The spirit of the constitution says we must be fair to both sexes. Anak, Bangsa, Malaysia: It is not just grammatically wrong, but foolish for a Federal Court judge to err drastically like this. I strongly believe that a judge must also use the arm of logic so that in all fairness, the ruling is just to all parties concerned. Now the grammatical error has thrown the judgment and the law into disarray, including the judge himself.

Taking a step backward to go forward - The Malaysian Insider

J ULY 05, 2013

35

In the face of days of outrage and opposition over a proposed Islamic law that allows the conversion of minors to Islam by a single parent, the Malaysian Cabinet today decided to withdraw the bill for a review. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet made the decision to withdraw the proposed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, to ensure that any religious decision made is fair to all. “We also want to give time to the government and all parties to review the bill holistically and will only re-table the bill once we achieve a consensus,” he said. Well, kudos to the Cabinet for its decision. One wonders why that was not done in the first place before the Bill was tabled in Parliament last week? It would seem that the Bill was sent in without any deliberation or discussion by the Cabinet or Barisan Nasional leaders. This is why we have reached this stage of outrage and opposition by most parties except perhaps those who believe there is nothing wrong with the proposed law. Now that the government has decided to take a step backward to go forward in this issue, perhaps it can actually see the folly and injustice of such an amendment. Enough people have traced the mistake to a mistranslation of the word parent into Bahasa Malaysia and a court ruling that does not appear to make sense. Perhaps the Cabinet should consider this before getting more egg on its collective face. What is important is that both parents have a say in their child's faith and not just one. And that religious authorities understand this rather than see such conversions as a duty or a matter of right. The state's job is to ensure fairness for all, especially in the laws of the land. Anything else is a betrayal of the promise of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And a government that takes care of all, especially the minorities. The Cabinet must remember this when it reviews this amendment that has divided the nation. - July 5, 2013.
FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2013 (M'kini)

Cabinet withdraws controversial conversion bill
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.

36

The bill stirred a hornet’s nest for providing that the permission of one parent alone is sufficient to convert a minor. In making the announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the status of a child after the father or mother embraces Islam was discussed in depth by the cabinet. "There are various views that have been taken into consideration by the BN component parties. "Based on this, the cabinet today decided to withdraw the bill. This is to ensure the determination of the religion of the child can be justly resolved," Muhyiddin said in a statement. With the withdrawal, Muhyiddin said, it would give the government and all parties the chance to scrutinise the law holistically. The government would then table a fresh bill, after it is in agreement among all parties concerned. The amendment bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on June 26. Muhyiddin also said that Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution states that the religion of a child under the age of 18 has to be decided by the parent or guardian. Amendment bill based on Subashini case He said that based on the Federal Court decision in the R Subashini vs T Saravanan case, as cited in the Malaysian Law Journal, the word `parent' was interpreted in the singular. The amendment to Section 107 (b) in the Administration of Islamic Law (FT) Bill 2013, Muhyiddin said, was based on the provision in the federal constitution and the Subashini case. Following today's cabinet decision, he said, any consequential amendments to the bill are also withdrawn. “The government believes Islam is a just religion for all humans and the issue of the status of the religion of the children should be resolved in a just manner, based on the justice principles of Islam,” he added. Despite what Muhyiddin cited on the Subashini case, veteran lawyer and lawmaker Karpal Singh said yesterday that the 2007 Federal Court ruling on the matter was grammatically wrong. Bar Council president Christopher Leong had earlier pointed to the move to amend Section 107 (b) as unconstitutional. MCA, MIC and Gerakan also oppose the controversial bill and have asked for it to be withdrawn and reviewed.

Cabinet withdraws 'Conversion' bill
First Published: 6:17pm, Jul 05, 2013 Last Updated: 8:01pm, Jul 05, 2013 Nation fz by Pathma SubramaniamZakiah Koya

37

Muhyiddin: The dispute over the religious status of a child (in a conversion case) should be resolved fairly based on the principle of justice in Islam. KUALA LUMPUR (July 5): The controversial bill allowing unilateral conversion of minors to Islam will be withdrawn before it goes through the Dewan Rakyat for a second reading, announced Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today. "The cabinet has agreed to withdraw the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill from Dewan Rakyat. The Bill has been tabled for the first reading on June 26," said Muhyiddin in a statement. Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution stated that the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. In relation to this, in the case of R Subashini and T Saravanan [2008] 2 MLJ 147, the Federal Court has defined the word "parent" as singular. Section 107(b) of the Bill was drawn up based on Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and Subashini's case. The religious status of minors in the cases where the mother or father converted to Islam has been extensively discussed in the cabinet. The views and concerns of various parties have been taken into consideration, including that of BN component parties. "Based on that, the cabinet has decided that the withdrawal of the Bill is necessary to ensure that the religious status of a child in such a case is resolved in a manner that is fair to all," he said. Muhyiddin also said the withdrawal would allow more time to the government and all parties to study the Bill again in a holistic way, adding that the government will only table the Bill again after obtaining the approval from all parties. The withdrawal of the bill would also mean that all consequential amendments arising from the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill will also be withdrawn. "The government believes that Islam is fair to everyone. Therefore, the issue disputing the religious status of a child should be resolved fairly based on the principle of justice in Islam," said Muhyiddin. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/cabinet-withdraws-conversion-bill#ixzz2YFYHwIpo

MUHYIDDIN: CABINET WITHDRAWS BILL ON CHILD CONVERSION
5 JUL 2013, 07:28PM BY SOBANA DAMODARAN NTV7

The Cabinet has agreed to withdraw the controversial bill allowing the conversion of minors to Islam with consent from just one parent. In a statement today, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the

38

move to withdraw the proposed bill was to ensure that any religious decision made by the government was fair to all Malaysians. He added the government also wanted to give time for all parties to review the bill holistically adding that it will only re-table the bill once a consensus was achieved. Following the decision, all consequential amendments in relation to the bill were also withdrawn. The proposed amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 had been tabled for its first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on June 26. If it had gone through, it will allow the conversion of minors to Islam by getting the approval of just one parent. - See more at: http://www.ntv7.com.my/7edition/localen/MUHYIDDIN_CABINET_WITHDRAWS_BILL_ON_CHILD_CONVERSION.html #sthash.nYhY2kHH.dpuf

Muhyiddin: Bill on conversion of minors withdrawn
Posted on 5 July 2013 - 07:08pm (The Sun Daily)

KUALA LUMPUR (July 5, 2013): The cabinet, which met today, has agreed to retract the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pix). The bill was tabled for the first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on June 26 by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. Muhyiddin said the issue on the status of a child's name, in cases where the mother or father of the child converted to Islam, had been discussed at length by the Cabinet taking into consideration the views and concerns of various quarters including Barisan Nasional component parties. "The cabinet had agreed that the retraction of the Bill was necessary to ensure that the issue on the determination of the child's religion in such cases was resolved in a fair manner for everyone," he said in a statement, here today.

39

Muhyiddin said the decision to retract the Bill was also made in order to give ample time to the government and everyone else to review the Bill in a holistic manner. "The Bill will only be tabled again after getting the agreement of all quarters," he said. All consequential amendments arising from the formulation of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 would also be retracted, he said. Clause (4) Article 12 of the Federal Constitution provides that the religion of anyone under the age of 18 must be decided by his/her parent or guardian. In this regard, the Federal Court in the case of Subashini d/o Rajasingam v. Saravanan s/o Thangathoray [2008] 2 MLJ 147 had interpreted the word 'parent' as singular. – Bernama

Published: Friday July 5, 2013 MYT 7:06:00 PM Updated: Friday July 5, 2013 MYT 9:16:12 PM
Published: Saturday July 6, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Saturday July 6, 2013 MYT 11:34:25 AM

Muhyiddin: Controversial Bill withdrawn for now
BY FLORENCE A. SAMY FLORENCEASAMY@THESTAR.COM.MY

PETALING JAYA: The controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 will be withdrawn until an agreement is reached with all stakeholders, says Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The Cabinet, he said, had decided at yesterday’s meeting to withdraw the Bill from the current Dewan Rakyat meeting following concerns from various quarters, including Barisan Nasional’s component party members.

40

“The Cabinet has discussed in depth the issue of the status of a child’s religion when his mother or father converts to Islam,” said Muhyiddin. “We agreed that the Bill’s withdrawal was necessary to ensure that such cases were resolved in a fair manner to all. “The withdrawal will also provide time for the Government and all sides to relook the law in a holistic manner. “And, it will only be retabled once an agreement is reached with all sides.”

Section 107(b) of the Bill, which allows for a child to be converted with the consent of only one parent, was tabled in Parliament on June 26 and was to have been debated on Monday.

41

Muhyiddin said all consequential amendments from the formulation of the Bill would also be withdrawn. “The Government believes that Islam is a fair religion to humanity and thus disputes over the status of a child’s religion must be resolved fairly based on the principles of justice in Islam.” The Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Section states that jika dia belum mencapai umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan pemelukan agama lslam olehnya (If he has not reached 18 years of age, his mother or father or guardian consents to his conversion). The Section, Muhyiddin added, was drafted based on Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution as well as the Subashini case. “Article 12(4) states that the religion of a person below 18 must be determined by his parent or guardian. Thus, the Federal Court in the case of Subashini Rajasingam vs Saravanan Thangathoray (2008) MLJ 147 had defined parent as mufrad(singular).” However, various groups, including the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, had stated that Subashini’s case was thrown out due to technicality as she had filed for a dissolution before the three-month period (from the date of the other spouse’s conversion to Islam) had expired. Yesterday, Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said Article 12(4) must be 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”. “The Federal Court decision in the case of Subashini was decided and dismissed on an initial point that the petition by the wife was premature.

42

“Therefore, the discussion by the Federal Court thereafter on Article 12(4) was ‘obiter dicta’ and not binding. “Also, the Federal Court did not take into account in its discussion the effect of Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule, and is therefore ‘per incuriam’.”

Friday, 05 July 2013 19:48

Move without waiting for Najib raises eyebrows: Muhyiddin withdraws controversial conversion Bill
Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle In a surprise move, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced the withdrawal of a proposed Bill that would allow children to be converted to Islam with the permission of just one parent. “We also want to give time to the government and all parties to review the bill holistically and will only re-table the bill once we achieve a consensus,” Muhyiddin said in a statement issued on Friday. The decision will be much lauded, especially by the non-Muslims in the country, who fear their most fundamental right would be impinged by the proposed new law. Many experts and prominent citizens have warned that if passed, the law could permanently divide multiracial Malaysia due to the sensitive issues of freedom of worship and ethic supremacy involved. Political undertones Muhyiddin's announcement also raised eyebrows as many had expected him and the Cabinet to wait for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is in London on a working visit, to return before making the high-profile decision. In particular, it has set off renewed speculation that the 65-year-old Muhyiddin was trying to make peace with the non-Malays, who form the minority in the country, with the view of replacing Najib as prime minister. Muhyiddin is notorious for his "I'm Malay first, Malaysian second" comment, which many in the country have criticized as being supportive of a racist agenda. Muhyddin's Umno party promotes a Malay 'supremacy' ideology so as to win the votes of the community, which forms about 55% of a 28 million population. Umno is due to hold its party election within the next few months and many believe Muhyiddin will challenge Najib for the Umno presidency. Outcry Whatever the political undertones, non-Muslmis welcomed the decision.

43

"We don't have the details yet. Hopefully, this means that we will see the end of such unfair legislation although from Muhyiddin's comment, it is clear that the government can re-table such a law. It is good news of course but it is hard for me to call it a victory because what is there to win? We are all guaranteed certain rights and protection in the Federal Constitution. Why should we have to fight to defend ourselves against a law that is so one-sided in the first place? If everyone respected everyone, and no race tries to bully another race and no religion tries to bully another religion, why should such a law crop up in the first place," Eddie Lee, a political observer, told Malaysia Chronicle. The proposed amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was tabled for first reading at the Malaysian Parliament last week, sparking a huge public uproar. If endorsed, it would have allowed the conversion of minors to Islam with just one parent’s approval. "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. We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you," The Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism had said. "The Malaysian Bar is concerned that section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 (D.R.1/2013) (“the 2013 Bill”), which has been tabled in Parliament, purports to provide that the consent of one parent alone is sufficient for the conversion of minor children to Islam. 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," Christopher Leong, president of the Malaysian Bar had warned. "The 2013 Bill should reflect the meaning of “parent” contained in Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, read with Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule of the Federal Constitution, which expressly provide 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," Leong added. Malaysia Chronicle

Govt withdraws Islamic Bill
Lisa J. Ariffin (FMT) | July 5, 2013

DPM Muhyiddin Yassin says a thorough study would be made first to ensure the issue of unilateral child conversions are handled in a fair manner.
FULL REPORT

44

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has decided to withdraw the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 following an indepth discussion in the Cabinet today. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the decision was made after getting feedback from all Cabinet members, including those who had objected to the Bill which provides for unilateral child conversions. “The Cabinet had agreed that the retraction of the Bill was necessary to ensure that the issue on the determination of the child’s religion was resolved in a fair manner for everyone,” he said in a statement, here today. He added that the decision to withdraw the Bill was also made to give time for the government and all other stakeholders to reconsider the Bill in a more holistic manner. “The Bill will only be tabled again in the parliament after getting the approval of all parties,” he added. All consequential amendments arising from the formulation of the Bill would also be retracted, he said. The Bill was tabled for the first reading in Dewan Rakyat on June 26 by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom. BN reps reject Bill

Earlier today, non-Muslim BN MPs have voiced their concern over the Bill which provides for unilateral child conversions. The MPs were responding to queries whether they would be supporting the Bill when it comes up for the second time in Parliament.

45

Hulu Selangor MP, P Kamalanathan, said: “It should not be a single parent’s decision alone to chart the future of a child. Both parents must have a say in their child’s life. “It is important that both the parent are happy, satisfied and content with the religion that their child is to live with for rest of his life.” MCA’s Labis MP, Chua Tee Yong, said his party had objected to the Bill because it is inconsistent with the Cabinet’s 2009 decision to ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. “I really hope the government will maintain a consistent stand,” he said. “Islam is the country’s number one religion but non-Muslim rights have to be protected.” Gerakan and Simpang Renggam MP Liang Teck Meng also said his party’s view was the same. “Our secretary general Mah Siew Keong has already said that the views of both parents must be taken into account, and the right of the child must also be considered,” he said. “I do not support the Bill.” ‘Bill not cast in stone’ However, Kamalanathan assured that the government understood the complexity of the issue and will take into account the sentiments of all stakeholders before making a decision. “The Bill is in its early stages and from my understanding it’s a translation difference between the English and Malay language versions of the Bill that is the cause for concern,” he said. “While the English version clearly states the need for both parents’ consent to convert a child, the Malay version states that either parent can make the decision for a child. “I’m sure this matter can be solved amicably and even (Deputy Prime Minister) Muhiyiddin Yassin agreed that amendments would be made if the situation warranted it,” he added.

Chua concurred and said the Bill “has not been cast in stone”. “Moreover, there are positive elements in the Bill to allow for non-Muslims lawyers to appear in the Syariah courts,” he said. “As an MP, I’d say the Bill has some points that are good. I wish more time will be given for people to study the Bill,” he added. Kamalanathan said: “I hope suitable amendments would be made to ensure that when it comes to a choice of religion for a child, it has to be a collective decision and not a unilateral one”. Since the Bill was tabled in Parliament last week, many feared the proposed legislation would legalise unilateral conversion of a child which is unconstitutional and contravenes the Cabinet’s directive.

46

On Wednesday, Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria claimed the Bill was being used by certain quarters to incite hatred towards the Muslim community. The outspoken Islamic scholar told FMT that the Bill was only formalising a standard practice which was agreed upon “since Merdeka Day”.

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/05/bn-mpsreject-one-parent-child-conversion/#sthash.9mATNDxn.dpuf

Muhyiddin: Cabinet agrees to retract conversion Bill
JULY 05, 2013UPDATED: JULY 05, 2013 08:47 PM (MM)

Muhyiddin said the Cabinet made the decision to withdraw the Bill following concerns from various quarters including from within Barisan Nasional. — Picture by Saw Siow FengKUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — Putrajaya agreed today to withdraw the controversial law permitting the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam following the uproar expressed by non-Muslim groups and politicians across the divide. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement here that Cabinet had discussed the matter at length and decided to retract the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 pending further study. He was reported by national news agency Bernama as saying that the issue on a child’s religious status, particularly in cases where either the mother or father is Muslim, should be discussed thoroughly among all relevant stakeholders before it is turned into law. “The Cabinet had agreed that the retraction of the Bill was necessary to ensure that the issue on the determination of the child’s religion in such cases was resolved in a fair manner for everyone,” he was quoted as saying. All further amendments to the law contained in the Bill would also be retracted for now, he added. Putrajaya’s latest move to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which politicians and non-Muslim groups have described as unfair, triggered an uproar among the country’s non-Muslim minorities when the law was tabled for first reading in Parliament last week.

47

Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who had announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, spoke out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. Despite this, Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam, was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muhyiddin-cabinetagrees-to-retract-bill#sthash.XpmIPSA1.dpuf

K’jaan tarik balik Rang Undang-Undang Islam
July 5, 2013

Muhyiddin berkata keputusan untuk menarik balik Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam dibuat bagi memberi masa untuk meneliti semula undang-undang tersebut secara holistik.

48

KUALA LUMPUR: Jemaah Menteri hari ini bersetuju untuk menarik balik Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013, kata Timbalan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Rang Undang-Undang tersebut dibentangkan untuk bacaan kali pertama di Dewan Rakyat pada 26 Jun lalu oleh Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. Muhyiddin berkata isu status agama anak dalam kes ibu atau bapa memeluk agama Islam telah dibincangkan secara mendalam oleh Kabinet dengan mengambil kira pandangan dan kebimbangan pelbagai pihak termasuk parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN). “Kabinet bersetuju penarikan balik Rang Undang-Undang itu adalah perlu demi memastikan isu penentuan agama anak dalam kes seumpama itu diselesaikan dengan cara yang adil kepada semua,” katanya dalam kenyataan selepas mesyuarat Kabinet hari ini. Muhyiddin berkata keputusan untuk menarik balik Rang Undang-Undang itu juga dibuat bagi memberi masa kepada kerajaan dan semua pihak untuk meneliti semula undang-undang tersebut secara holistik. “Rang undang-undang ini hanya akan dibentangkan semula setelah mendapat persetujuan semua pihak,” katanya. Semua pindaan yang berbangkit daripada penggubalan Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013 juga akan ditarik balik, katanya. Timbalan Perdana Menteri menegaskan kerajaan percaya Islam adalah agama yang adil kepada umat manusia, maka isu pertikaian status agama anak perlu diselesaikan secara adil berdasarkan prinsip keadilan dalam Islam. Fasal (4) Perkara 12 Perlembagaan Persekutuan memperuntukkan bahawa agama seseorang yang di bawah umur 18 tahun hendaklah ditetapkan oleh “his parent or guardian” (ibu bapa atau penjaga). Sebelum ini, Mahkamah Persekutuan dalam kes Subashini a/p Rajasingam melawan Saravanan a/l Thangathoray [2008] 2 MLJ 147 telah mentafsirkan perkataan ‘parent’ sebagai mufrad. Fasal 107(b) dalam Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013 telah digubal berdasarkan peruntukan Fasal (4) Perkara 12 Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan kes Subashini. Bernama

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/05/kjaan-tarikbalik-rang-undang-undang-islam/#sthash.DZNYnuSa.dpuf

Controversial Bill on conversion of minors withdrawn
UPDATED @ 08:04:51 PM 05-07-2013

49

BY JENNI FER GOM EZ AND LEE SHI -I AN J ULY 05, 2013

The Cabinet has decided to withdraw the proposal allowing for the conversion of minors to Islam by a single parent. In a statement today, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the cabinet made the decision to withdraw the proposed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, to ensure that any religious decision made is fair to all, the New Straits Times reported. “We also want to give time to the government and all parties to review the bill holistically and will only re-table the bill once we achieve a consensus,” he said. While welcoming the withdrawal of the controversial unilateral conversion Bill, some quarters hope that the government would not attempt to introduce another Bill with the same clauses. Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) deputy president Jagir Singh said it was only right to withdraw the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 so that it did not affect the unity of the country. He, however, hopes that the offending clauses will not resurface in another Bill. "The efforts of all the stakeholders have not been in vain as the Cabinet has taken all the feedback into consideration in withdrawing the proposal allowing for the conversion of minors to Islam by a single parent," said Jagir who is also the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council president. In a statement earlier today, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet had decided to withdraw the proposed Bill which was tabled for first reading in parliament last week, to ensure that any religious decision made was fair to all. Muhyiddin said they wanted to give the government and all stakeholders more time to review the bill holistically. It will be retabled once a consensus has been reached. Catholic Research Centre director Fr. Clarence Devadass said they hoped that the process of consultation could begin now with the involvement of all relevant parties. "We are very glad that the government has heard the voice of the people," he said. Former president of the Kuala Lumpur Catholic Lawyers Society Francis Pereira said the Bill had clearly not promoted national unity in any way. "We are relieved that the government has decided to withdraw the bill as it had caused anxiety among non-Muslims in Malaysia."

50

MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel expressed his satisfaction at the Cabinet's decision. He said the Cabinet had deliberated long and hard before deciding to withdraw it. "It was a fair move taking into consideration the sensitivities of various stakeholders and groups. MIC still stands by its statement that the consent of both parents are needed for the conversion of children to Islam," Palanivel added. - July 5, 2013

Despite child conversion row, Cabinet interfaith panel’s term quietly ‘expires’
BY IDA LIM JULY 05, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 ― The term of the Cabinet’s interfaith panel has “expired” unnoticed just as ongoing debate erupted last week over a proposed law that would allow the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

Datuk Azman Amin Hassan (picture), the appointed chairman of the panel, on Wednesday confirmed that its term ended on June 30 — just days after the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was tabled in Parliament. Critics of the Bill’s controversial section 107 (b) complained that its attempt to legislate singleparent consent for the conversion of children to Islam is unconstitutional and against the Cabinet’s decision in 2009 banning such attempts without consent from both parents. When asked if the Cabinet’s interfaith panel had met to discuss the controversial clause, Azman told The Malay Mail Online: “No, JKMPKA has expired last month.” Azman explained that the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Promote Understanding and Harmony Among Religious Adherents (JKMPKA), which was set up in 2011, runs on a two-year basis. But, he added, he remains the chairman of the defunct committee.

51

Azman, who is also National Unity and Integration Department (NUID) director-general, said JKMPKA was seeking to finalise the committee’s line-up for the new term soon. Barely two months in his new role, Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup was last week handed his first major test in handling the concerns of a community of diverse ethnic groups and faiths, of which the majority are adherents of Islam — the country’s official religion. Kurup had stepped into his shoes as the new minister in charge of national unity and integration along with the new Cabinet in May, taking over the post from Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon. The newly-minted minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on Wednesday met the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) — the country’s largest non-Muslim interfaith group — and the Catholic Lawyers Society to hear them out on their views on the controversial law. According to Azman, Kurup wanted to gather feedback at the grassroots level before bringing up the issue at the Cabinet meeting today. On the same day, MCCBCHST also met with the MCA to share its concerns on section 107 (b) as well as clauses 51(3)(b)(X) and 51(3)(b)(XI) of the same Bill. The MCCBCHST had previously asserted that clause 51(3)(b)(X) would empower the syariah court to declare that a person is no longer a Muslim, with clause 51(3)(b)(xi) authorising the syariah court to decide whether a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of death. Sardar Jagir Singh, MCCBCHST’s deputy president, said the jurisdiction in legal disputes over the religious status of individuals should lie with the civil courts instead of the syariah court. “Any conversion needs witnesses, any dispute as of the conversion, the proper place (to decide whether a person is Muslim or non-Muslim) will be in civil court, not syariah Court,” he was quoted as saying by the fz.com news portal on Wednesday. The Federal Constitution is worded such that Malays are legally Muslims. Islam also does not allow apostasy despite the constitutional guarantee on religious freedom, leading to legal complications — especially on the issue of jurisdiction — when Malays and Muslims seek to leave the religion. Non-Muslims have also engaged in disputes with Islamic authorities over the religious status and possession of the remains of deceased family members who had converted to Islam. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversion have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over perceived dominance of Islam in the country.

52

These legal battles also serve to highlight the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/despite-childconversion-row-cabinet-interfaith-panels-term-quietly-expires#sthash.08ADuagm.dpuf

Kulai MP: Child conversion goes against UN convention
Malaysiakini – 2 hours 6 minutes ago

View Photo

The bill allowing for unilateral child conversion should be withdrawn as the provision is against the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Malaysia is a signatory, said Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching "The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 on unilateral conversion of minors to Islam is against the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). "It (the bill) should be reviewed and withdrawn immediately" said Teo in a press statement today. Teo ( right ), who is DAP assistant national publicity secretary, cited Article 18.1 of the CRC which says: "States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child." Teo added, "As a party to the CRC, Malaysia recognises that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child."

53

"By allowing a minor to be converted to the religion of Islam with a single parent's consent, we are going to deny the non-converting parent from playing his/her role in the upbringing of the child." The proposed amendment to the bill, which states that only one parent's consent is needed to convert a minor to Islam, has drawn widespread criticism from the Bar Council, NGOs, BN component parties as well as from several members of the cabinet . The CRC, which Malaysia ratified in 1995, is considered a legally-binding document under international law. While Teo didn't mention it, the CRC also states that children have the right to freedom of religion and that parents should only "provide direction". "14.1 States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. "14.2 States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child."

Religion is a game of numbers
JULY 05, 2013

Zurairi AR is a humanist and sceptic who believes in doing good for goodness' sake. He tweets for believers and non-believers alike at @zurairi.

JULY 5 — There was marked silence from Malay Muslim MPs on the proposed amendment that would see a child converted into Islam if either parent consents to it. Save for some dissenting voices, most of them see no problem with it. Being Muslims themselves, I guess they are secure in the fact that their children will never ever get converted.

54

The ones who will get converted are the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and irreligious kids. Never precious Muslims. It is illegal for anybody to even try to convert a Muslim to another religion. Proselytising to Muslims is prohibited under syarie law in most states, under the threat of whipping and long stints in jail. Conveniently enough, this does not apply the other way round. Proselytisation by Muslims is not only allowed, but encouraged. This has caused awkward moments when a child happens to have just one parent who is a Muslim, she must embrace Islam as did her parent. She cannot choose to follow the non-Muslim parent’s religion, despite the other parent being... her parent. Selangor Mufti Tamyes Abd Wahid had himself stressed this. Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria and him have both defended the unfair provision and told critics to back off. For non-Muslims, if at this point you are feeling like you are being treated as a second-class citizen, then you are quite right. Nothing says “screw you” as much as saying that your opinion is not worth a damn. Religion in an ideal world In an ideal world, a child would have the freedom to pick and choose which religion to adhere to the moment she reaches adulthood. It is only fair that one can decide her religion at the same age when she is deemed wise enough to enter marriage, drive a car and get wasted. This freedom to pick and choose — it might seem that this is a freedom only those outside Islam enjoy — is not really there for everyone. It is a known fact that most people do not choose their religion as much as they are born into it. Parents would teach their children about their chosen god(s) the moment the children can understand speech. For Muslims, one of the first words a human will hear after her birth is the call to prayer. Kids then go through a set of routines and rituals to reinforce that belief. In Malaysia and for Muslims, the reinforcements are even state-sanctioned, as religious education is made compulsory at school. Is it any wonder then that most people stay loyal to their god until their death, and they call it “faith” instead? As for the rest, some will choose another god to worship, while others abandon all of them completely. Except for Muslims, obviously. Quantity, not quality For most religions, it is just a game of numbers. It is a race to see who has the most number of followers. Whose god can command more humans.

55

Ask most Muslims, and they will tell you that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records has said so, so it must be true. However, ask some Christians, Hindus, and even Wiccans and they might say the same thing too. Mormons currently have one of the largest growth rates in the United States, and is predicted to be a major world religion by the end of the century. Wiccans have claimed that they have a growth rate of over 100 per cent every year. Quite interestingly enough, irreligion is on the rise too. Claims have been made that more and more people identify themselves as being non-religious, despite professing a religion. Perhaps the next time a population census is held Malaysia, let us have all the non-practising Muslims, lapsed Christians and I-don’t-care animists tick the “no religion” box. What are the chances that we might see irreligion turn out to be the fastest growing “faith” in Malaysia? Will Izzah be a champion? PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar revealed this week that a joint committee has been set up among the Pakatan Rakyat parties to study the law on child conversion. It might be her latest chance to prove her commitment to freedom of religion. Last year, she had made a great stride among Malaysians for openly saying that freedom of religion should apply to all, even Malays. Sadly, political pressure from conservatives and religious hawks caused her to go back on her words, and we have all been the poorer from that. In a country where apostasy is seen as one of the worst crimes — punishable by death, as justified by some — we more than ever need champions of freedom for, and from religion. * This is the personal opinion of the columnist. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/zurairi-ar/article/religion-is-a-game-ofnumbers#sthash.m5bqzmGX.dpuf

Conversion Bill will show true colours of parties
Joshua Phua Pei Xing 7:02PM Jul 4, 2013

There has been much uproar over the recent tabling of the Bill to amend the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Enactment to allow one parent to convert their minor children to Islam, and rightly so. The tabling of the Bill in Parliament has brought about much uproar from both sides of the political divide, with even BN component parties being divided over the tabling of the conversion Bill.

56

This is because the tabling of the amendment in the Federal Territories Islamic law related to child conversion impinges on the rights of non-Muslims. BN's second-strongest component party, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has even voiced out against the move. This shows that although MCA no longer has government posts, the party is still continuing to champion the rights of all Malaysians, especially the non-Muslims. Though MCA performed rather dismally in the 13th general election and accepted no government posts, they are still exercising their powers through the BN mechanism. This goes to show that the picture painted by DAP that MCA does not dare to stand up to Umno, is a fallacy. MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu's statement that "The tabling of the Bill is tantamount to introducing the laws by stealth, and it's a terrible disservice to the much talked-about national reconciliation," might draw flak from those tabling the Bill but MCA has to object to the conversion Bill because it is the right thing to do. The party's seven members of Parliament will also vote against the Bill but will it be enough to stop the Bill from being voted in? PAS of Pakatan Rakyat has 21 votes in Parliament and will the non-Muslims dare to count on them to vote against the conversion Bill? Only time will tell.

Friday, 05 July 2013 09:33

Nazri: Open secret that Rulers objected to Cabinet's decision on conversion

Senior Umno leader Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today that "it was an open secret" that the Conference of Rulers objected to the implementation of the cabinet's 2009 decision against the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. He said the conference was the only institution in the country that could object in the matter which ultimately led to a suspension of the decision that both parents should agree to the changing of a child's faith. The tourism minister said a bill is tabled in Parliament only when the cabinet has decided and approved it.

57

"Once Parliament approves it, it will become law. But in Malaysia, the only institution that can, in a way, stop this process will be the Conference of Rulers. "It is an open secret and obvious for any right-thinking Malaysian to come to this conclusion or deduction that this could be the only reason why such a powerful cabinet decision cannot be implemented." Nazri, who is also Padang Rengas MP, qualified himself by adding that he was not explicitly saying that the Conference of Rulers objected to the cabinet's 2009 decision. "But I think Malaysians can make their own deduction on why it has not become a law... who else can stop the cabinet's decision," Nazri told theSun today. He said this in reference to theSun's front page report yesterday that despite mounting objections to unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, reservations from the Malay rulers put paid to the 2009 cabinet's stand against unilateral conversion. Nazri, who was the de facto law minister then, added that the proposed amendment to Clause 107 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which is being objected by various groups, should not be tabled for its second reading or debated. He explained that from a Muslim's point of view, there should be no coercion in religion. Nazri said every child that is born already has a religion and is inculcated with religious values by the parents. "When one of the parents convert to Islam and also convert the children who already has a religion, then it is actually coercion. No Muslim will agree to this because Islam must be embraced and 'embrace' here is a connotation of free will. "As a Muslim, I am very upset that Islam is being used as a tool of convenience by parties at fault in the marriage, to dissolve the marriage and run away from responsibilities. "This is how I see in this issue ... a husband (or wife) trying to use Islam to run away from their responsibilities and punish their spouse," he added. Nazri said the bill is merely postponing a bigger issue which will occur when the child attains the age of 18, when he or she decides what religion to embrace. "If the child decides to embrace his or her original religion, then it is considered as apostasy and it is an offence in Islam. "It will create more issues in the future, which will give Islam a very bad name," he said. Meanwhile, former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin said the mother or father who has embraced Islam is not supposed to make their young children follow suit. He said what should be done is that the children should undergo Islamic education until they are mature enough to decide on the religion of their choice. He said a Muslim father can teach their children about Islam even if they are under the care of their non-Muslim spouse.

58

"It is alright if the custody of the children is given to the mother, as Islam is the official religion in the country and the religion of the federation, and what is needed is for the father to teach Islam to the children," he said. - theSundaily
Read more: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=124291:nazriopen-secret-that-rulers-objected-to-cabinets-decision-onconversion&Itemid=2#.UdYluDssXfs#ixzz2Y8EddCdl

FZ Says: Don’t hitch faith to the law
First Published: 7:24pm, Jul 04, 2013 Last Updated: 7:26pm, Jul 04, 2013 Opinion by fz.com THE deep disquiet that has emerged over the proposed Syariah law that allows one parent to convert a child is symptomatic of the problems that arise when religion, which centres on transcendent principles, is brought into the confines of the law. Much heat is already building up over the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, especially Clause 107(b), which relates to the conversion of a non-Muslim minor, and concerned members of society have warned that the proposed law could seriously strain relations among Malaysia’s communities. Indeed, there are already several high profile examples of families traumatised by the effects of such conversions since the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Act 1993, which has the same provision, came into effect. Cases like those of S Shamala, M Indira Gandhi and R Subashini demonstrate what can go wrong with conversions when the parties involved do not act in a spirit of mutual understanding and the law is seen through a narrow lens. They hold powerful lessons for the administration of justice in a multi-religious context. As inter-religious debates tend to evoke strong emotions, it is important to examine such contentious issues dispassionately, so that the discussion is not clouded by sentiment. It is noteworthy that the core questions that religions address are concerned with the quality of our internal processes rather than form and ritual. In the current dilemma, the questions that arise include whether the law focuses attention on formal membership in one religion or another at the expense of an inner appreciation of a faith. This point is highly pertinent if we wish to find a way out of the morass of mutual suspicion and intolerance that would consume our communities in an environment where each group sees the other as a rival for potential members. For this reason, it is important to remind ourselves that the essence of religion is lost when we attempt to enshrine it in law. Surely, better outcomes can be expected when faith is allowed to blossom in the heart.

59

To move forward then, we have to turn away from the path that we are currently on and in the case of conversions, hand the power back to the individual to decide on how far he wants to take his faith. The state should stay firmly out of it. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/fz-says-don%E2%80%99t-hitch-faith-law#ixzz2Y5BbZnfZ

Voting on the ‘conversion bill’
First Published: 5:18pm, Jul 04, 2013 Last Updated: 5:18pm, Jul 04, 2013 Opinion ‘The Writest Stuff’ by Mohsin Abdullah pix courtesy of www.sxc.hu FZ.com recently published a letter from a reader who wanted our MPs – BN or PR alike –to “do the right thing” by not voting “to pass the Bill as it stands”. The bill is of course the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. But the focus of attention of many Malaysians now is Clause 107 (b), which provides that the consent of one parent alone is sufficient for the conversion of minor children to Islam. Hence it is widely known or commonly referred to as the “conversion” bill. And as we know many are against it, insisting that both parents of minors must agree to any conversion of religion involving their children. The “many” include religious groups, civil societies, political parties and ‘ordinary’ Malaysians. The Bill is tabled in parliament by the BN government. But we are also hearing of disagreement coming from BN MPs, including ministers. From the PR side, the DAP have made their stand very clear. As for MPs from PAS and PKR, views opposing the Bill have been uttered but in personal capacities. Pakatan Rakyat is still discussing the issue and is expected to come up with a “collective” decision soon. Already at least one so-called Muslim NGO has come out to urge the government “to go ahead and not bow to anti Islam groups who are demanding the Bill be withdrawn”. Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia or ISMA want the government to “be firm in ensuring the position of Islam is protected” and is calling upon all Muslims “to stand strong and support any effort to strengthen Islam and Syariah Islamic laws in Malaysia”. As said earlier, interesting to note that among those opposing Clause 107 (b) are Muslims. PAS’s Dr Abdul Rani Osman and BN’s Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz among them. Of course, in their personal capacity. Dr Abdul Rani is not in parliament but Nazri is. So if or when the Bill comes up for vote, how will Nazri and other Muslim MPs (including from PR) who share his views at least on this particular issue vote? Based on what they have said it can be “assured” that they would vote against the Bill. But can they live with accusation, at least by ISMA of being “anti-Islam?” Can they afford to be labelled such? Granted, ISMA does not speak for the religion or all Muslims, for that matter. The concern would be if its stand gathers traction among Muslims.

60

Hence, can it or will it result in a situation where all Muslims MPs gather on one side and vote for the Bill, with the non-Muslim MPs on another side, voting against it? Regardless of BN or PR. Wouldn’t that be divisiveness at its ugliest? Something we don’t need. Ever. An MP downplayed such a possibility, quipping instead “I’ll be outside the Dewan during voting.” But an MP from PR see the tabling of the Bill as a “political conspiracy” saying, “The main aim of this Bill is to create division among Muslims and non-Muslims. And trying to split PR.” Well, anyway. Faith of MPs aside, there’s the “whip” factor in parliament. Whips are enforcers as we know. And among the whip’s function is to ensure MPs from its party vote along party line. In other words, vote according to the official party policy. By convention the deputy prime minister is the chief Whip for the BN. PR as a group do not have one but PAS, DAP and PKR each have their own chief Whip. So will MPs, in particular from the government , despite their views on the Bill, be willing to take the risk of incurring the wrath of the Whip by voting against it? Or will the government withdraw the Bill, now that many among its midst are not for it. That would make sense to some or many of the rakyat. But then the government will stand accused (by the likes of ISMA) of being “anti-Islam”. Can an Umno-helmed administration live with this? Mohsin Abdullah is a specialist writer at fz.com. He likes rojak. And nasi campur. And durians. Perhaps that's why he writes about this, that and everything else. Pretty much rojak and nasi campur. As for his writings, well, they can be like durians. Aromatic and delicious to some people, smelly and off-putting to others. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/voting-%E2%80%98conversionbill%E2%80%99#ixzz2Y5B7Yk9O

Child conversion: Karpal may submit private member’s bill
JULY 04, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Bukit Gelugor member of Parliament Karpal Singh intends to submit a private member’s bill in Parliament seeking the amendment of the Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.

61

Bukit Gelugor member of Parliament Karpal Singh. The DAP chairman said, the amendment among others meant to avoid confusion in the interpretation of the word ‘Parent’ mentioned in the clause of the article. However, he said Parliament required a two-third majority for such amendment to be made. “So if the government does not want to participate (to amend the constitution), I intend to go with a private member’s bill, based on the situation,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby, here today. Karpal said the word ‘parent’ in the Article should be qualified to be deemed to be both parents, if alive. “Such an amendment would remove, once and for all, any doubt as to the intention of the framers of the Constitution who must have such an objective in mind in the inclusion of Article 12(4) in that sacred document,” he said. Karpal said the amendment would also end argument on the proposed unilateral conversion of the section 107(b) in the Administration of Religion of Islam Bill 2013 tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last week. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the proposed section was based on a Federal Court ruling and provisions of the constitution. — Bernama - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/child-conversion-karpal-maysubmit-private-members-bill?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook#sthash.dR5YX2fa.dpuf
Friday, 05 July 2013 09:25

Child Conversion Bill: Amend the Federal Constitution - Karpal

62

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh today urged the government to move a motion to amend Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution to stop the unilateral consent of a parent in deciding a minor child's religion. Karpal, who is Bukit Gelugor MP, said it is important to state that the word "parent" in the clause is deemed as both father and mother if both are alive. The article states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 shall be decided by his parent or guardian. "A parent would mean both parents. That must mean both, if alive of course. "Amend it to include both (father and mother)," he said at a press conference at Parliament lobby today. Karpal said any other interpretation would lead to a manifestation of injustice. "It would also lead to abuse of conversion to Islam in that a single parent could use that device without any bona fide intention to convert to Islam to defeat the right of the other parent who would be deprived of any recourse to justice," he added, citing the case of Subashini Rajasingam whose husband who had converted to Islam, also converted their child without her consent. He said the Federal Court held that the use of a singular word 'parent' in Article 12(4) of the Constitution rendered the consent of a single parent enough to validate the conversion of a minor to Islam. He said DAP is willing to support the move to amend the Constitution in this matter, and called on his Pakatan Rakyat counterparts to do the same. Karpal said he would submit a private members bill to amend the Constitution if the government does not move the motion. - theSundaily

63

Read more: http://www.malaysia-

chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=124251:child-conversion-bill-amend-the-

federal-constitution-karpal&Itemid=2#.UdYl4DssXfs#ixzz2Y8E4UY5B

Thursday, July 4, 2013
Karpal: Federal Court ruling grammatically wrong
Karpal: Federal Court ruling grammatically wrong A 2007 Federal Court ruling allowing for unilateral conversion of a child to Islam was “grammatically wrong”, DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh said today. Karpal, who is also a lawyer, said that the court’s ruling was a wrong interpretation of the word 'parent' under Article 12 (4) of the federal constitution.

He urged the Parliament to “depart” from the Federal Court decision and not be tied down by the ruling because the judiciary “is but an arm of the government”. The Federal Court decision on Dec 27 2007 ruled that a single parent was enough to convert a child to Islam based on the word 'parent' that appeared in the federal constitution. The court ruled in favour of a Hindu father who had converted his underage child to Islam, holding in essence that the constitution rendered the consent of a single parent enough to validate the conversion of a minor to Islam.

64

However, Karpal said that the word 'parent', in its essence, should refer to both the mother and father and should not refer to one parent alone. "Parent should mean both the mother and father," he said during a press conference at Parliament lobby today. He stressed that there was no need to add a 's' at the back of the word 'parent' in order to make it plural, that the current provision of the the word 'parent' was written with the intention of referring to both parents. "There is no need. The current provision is right. The interpretation by the Federal Court is wrong," he said. He said that grammatically, the word parent should mean both parents "if they are alive". "Any other interpretation would lead to a manifestation of injustice," he said. "Islam should be not allowed to be used in the perpetration of injustice," he added.

'Amend constitution to end confusion over conversion'

Karpal seeks constitutional amendment over child conversion
J ULY 04, 2013

Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh intends to submit a private member's bill in Parliament seeking the amendment of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution. The DAP chairman said the amendment among others meant to avoid confusion in the interpretation of the word 'Parent' mentioned in the clause of the article. However, he said Parliament required a two-thirds majority for such amendment to be made. "So if the government does not want to participate (to amend the constitution), I intend to go with a private member's bill, based on the situation," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today. Karpal said the word 'parent' in the Article should be qualified to be deemed to be both parents, if alive.

65

"Such an amendment would remove, once and for all, any doubt as to the intention of the framers of the Constitution who must have such an objective in mind in the inclusion of Article 12(4) in that sacred document," he said. Karpal said the amendment would also end argument on the proposed unilateral conversion of the section 107(b) in the Administration of Religion of Islam Bill 2013 tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last week. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the proposed section was based on a Federal Court ruling and provisions of the constitution. - Bernama, July 4, 2013.

Karpal: Amend constitution to end unilateral conversions for good
First Published: 3:46pm, Jul 04, 2013 Last Updated: 7:41pm, Jul 04, 2013 Nation by Pathma Subramaniam KUALA LUMPUR (July 4): Veteran DAP parliamentarian Karpal Singh today called on Putrajaya to amend the Federal Constitution in order to end the current imbroglio over the unilateral conversion of minors. Karpal, who is DAP chairman, said an amendment to Article 12(4) of the constitution would render all other laws in relation to single parental consent to convert a child unconstitutional. Article 12(4) states that only the consent of one parent is sufficient in the conversion of a child and it was upheld by the Federal Court in 2007 when it endorsed the conversion of a four-yearold son to Islam without the knowledge of the mother. Karpal suggested that the word 'parent' in the clause should be qualified 'to be deemed to be both parents, if alive'. "In the first place, the word 'parent' in Article 12(4) must and has to mean grammatically, both parents, if they are alive," said the veteran lawyer. Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, the Bukit Gelugor MP asserted that any other interpretation "would only lead to the manifestation of injustice". Karpal cited the 2007 case involving R Subashini, a Hindu, who initiated divorce and custody proceedings against her estranged husband T Saravanan, who converted to Islam along with their then four-year-old son. The apex court had then ruled only the consent of one parent is sufficient in the conversion of a child and that Saravanan, who assumed the name Muhammad Shafi Abdullah, did not abuse the court process by converting his son without the knowledge of the mother. The ruling stated that according to Islamic law, only one parent should be informed for the conversion of a child.

66

The Federal Court ruling in the case was also the basis for the recently introduced Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill, tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last week, which reasserts the controversial argument that it reinforces unilateral conversion. Karpal opined that the Parliament is not bound by the judgement and should deviate from the ruling to secure the rights of the non-Muslims. The government has yet to retract the proposed bill, despite grievances that it is at the disadvantage of non-Muslims who have no locus standi in the Syariah Court. However, thinking ahead, Karpal said an amendment to the constitution would immediately render any laws, including the new bill, irrelevant and if passed without amendments made, unconstitutional. "It would lead to abuse of conversion to Islam in that a single parent could use that device without any bona fide intention to convert to Islam, to defeat the rights of the other parent who would be deprived of any recourse to justice. "He would be hamstrung in that he could not appear, short of conversion to Islam himself, in Syariah Court to enforce his God-given right to guardianship of a child," he said. Karpal stressed that Islam should not be allowed to be used as a device in the "perpetration of an injustice". He added that all 38 DAP MPs would support the constitutional amendment "for the sake of humanity" if the BN government tables the motion to make up the two thirds majority needed to amendment the supreme law. "Votes taken must be according to conscience, with the removal of the whips from the government and the opposition," he said calling on PKR and PAS to support the move. However, Karpal said if the government does not take the initiative he will table a Private Members' Bill. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/karpal-amend-constitution-end-unilateral-conversionsgood#ixzz2Y599uiXQ

Set constitutional safeguard against unilateral child conversion, says Karpal
BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID JULY 04, 2013

67

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 ― DAP chairman Karpal Singh (picture) today proposed that the Federal Constitution be amended to ensure any move to convert minors to Islam would require the consent of both parents. The Bukit Gelugor MP argued that this was the best way to solve the ongoing row over a proposed law to loosen the parental consent required for the conversion of minors to Islam, saying that he would file the motion to make the changes to the Constitution through a Private Member’s Bill should Putrajaya fail to do so. “I’m calling for a bigger movement for Barisan Nasional to move an amendment to the federal constitution. “It doesn’t have a two third majority but DAP has 38 seats and all it needs is 13 seats in fact 15 seats for the purpose of amending the constitution,” he told a press conference in Parliament here. “And the DAP is ready to provide (the votes),” he added. Karpal said the key amendment would ensure Article 12(4) states clearly that “parent” would mean both parents, arguing that any other interpretation to the word “would lead to a manifestation of injustice”. “In the first place the word parent in Article 12(4) must, and has to mean, grammatically, both parents if they are alive. The grammatical construction of the word and context in which it appears is compelling. “Any other interpretation would lead to a manifestation of injustice,” he said. Karpal’s criticism comes just as his DAP colleague Lim Kit Siang suggested that a full inquiry into the translation error be launched who also argued that when the Administration of the Religion of

68

Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act was passed in Parliament in May 1993, it had stipulated the need for dual parental consent when a child under 18 years converts to Islam. Putrajaya’s latest move to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which politicians and non-Muslim groups have described as unfair, have triggered an uproar among the country’s non-Muslim minorities. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, spoke out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. Despite this, Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam, was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, have defended the proposed law, saying that the move was being done according to existing laws. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/set-constitutionalsafeguard-against-unilateral-child-conversion-says-karpa#sthash.WDQ4tLby.dpuf

Conversion Bill amendment: DAP offers BN help
Anisah Shukry | July 4, 2013

69

DAP chairman Karpal Singh says DAP is willing to provide BN with the two thirds majority needed to end the row over unilateral conversion of minors.

KUALA LUMPUR: In a rare moment of unity, DAP chairman Karpal Singh today offered Barisan Nasional each DAP MP’s support to amend Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution which relates to the religious conversion of minors. Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution states: “…the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian”. The Bukit Gelugor MP suggested today that an amendment could be made whereby the word “parent” was followed with “deemed to be both parents if both parents are alive”. The amendment, he argued, would bring an end to the row over the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which, if passed, could allow a sole parent to convert children below 18 to Islam. “The DAP will, in the public interest, provide the necessary support. It has 38 members of Parliament, nearly thrice the number the BN needs to secure a two-thirds majority,” Karpal said at a press conference in the Parliament lobby today. “In the interests of humanity, such an amendment should secure the support of all members of Parliament on either side of the divide.” The veteran politician said that if the Constitution remained unchanged, it was unlikely that Parliament would be able to stop the Bill from being bulldozed through. He noted a court ruling in 2004 and 2007 which stated that use of the singular word “parent” in the constitution referred to the consent of a single parent, and was enough to validate the conversion of a minor to Islam. “The decision of the Federal Court, the highest court in the land, would appear to tie the hands of Parliament,” Karpal said. “Such an amendment would remove, once and for all, any doubt as to the intention of the framers of the Constitution who must have had such an objective in mind in the inclusion of Article 12(4) in that sacred document,” he said. The controversial Bill has received flak from the public, Cabinet members and BN and Pakatan leaders alike for being “unfair” and “detrimental” to non-Muslims.

70

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has acknowledged there were “issues” with the Bill, but defended it as a reflection of the current situation.

He said last Monday the government would take into consideration the public’s views and examine the Bill carefully before an announcement is made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs Jamil Khir Baharom. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/04/conversion-bill-amendment-dap-offers-bnhelp/#sthash.uWY00v29.dpuf

Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Kristian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism
28 June 2013 Media Statement

Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013 Conversion by Single Parent is Unconstitutional
The Malaysian Consultative 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 Islamic Laws is unilaterally trying to alter the Federal Constitution by translating the word "parent" in the Federal Constitution to mean "Ibu atau Bapa" as opposed to "Ibubapa". 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 Islam olehnya" This provision would further creates social injustice and is contrary to the constitutional scheme of things.

71

We hold the Federal Cabinet accountable for this transgression, that is, inspite of the Cabinet's decision of 23/4/2009 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. 1/2O13. It 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. We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you. We must warn that if "Parent" in Article 12(4) is to be interpreted to mean "single" parent", it will go against the spirit and letter of Article 4 of the Federal Constitution - the Supreme Law of the land. If this interpretation is advanced, then there is nothing to stop the other single parent to convert back the child to the Original religion. No religious law can over-ride the constitution. This would produce an absurd result and therefore this could not be the meaning intended. Reliance on the case of SUBASHINI (2008), may not be in order as the case appears to be wrongly decided due to the following:i. The Court did not apply the Statutory Interpretation clause. Art. 160(1) (Eleventh Schedule) under which "words importing the masculine gender include female" and "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular. The guardianship of Infants Act, 1961 which provides for equality of parental rights. If single "parent" can convert, then it would lead to an absurd result, as the nonconverting spouse can similarly by virtue of being a single parent convert back her child to the original faith.

ii. iii.

We understand that the Bill also provides for Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is a Muslim or not. See Section 51(3)(b) (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.

Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow, President, MCCBCHST

AMS

Sardar Jagir Singh Deputy President, MCCBCHST

Venerable Sing Kan Vice President, MCCBCHST

Reverend Dr. Thomas Philips Vice President, MCCBCHST

Y. Bhg. Datuk RS. Mohan Shan, Vice President, MCCBCHST

PMW, JMW, AMK, BKM, PJK

Mr. Prematilaka KD. Serisena Hon. Secretary General, MCCBCHST

72

MCCBCHST Statement on the proposed law that allows one parent to change a child's religion
13 June 2013 MCCBHST's Press Statement MCCBCHST wishes to highlight for the attention of all justice- loving Malaysians, whatever their religion, the following scenario that has happened all too often... and yet another example is in the news again. A husband walks out of the family home; no news of him for 16 months...then he converts to Islam and subsequently takes his underage children to the Negeri Sembilan lslamic authorities to get them converted to lslam. He claims negative issues regarding his non-Muslim spouse. With no evidence provided, nor documents giving him the authority to act on her behalf. Regardless, the Officer at the Jabatan Agama lslam proceeds to convert the underage children to Islam, without the consent of their lawful mother. When their mother goes to the kindergarten to pick up her son Nitran, she discovers that he has been taken away by the man who is still her husband. She goes to Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Negeri Sembilan in Paroi and to her horror, learns from a senior officer that Nitran 5, and Sharmila 8 had been converted to Islam without the consent of their lawful mother, and purely at the request of one parent who was a recent convert to Islam, and who is still in a civil marriage with her, a non-Muslim. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is appalled that despite the Cabinet decision that “A single parent cannot convert his or her children” in the Sun, 24 April 2009. Nitran and Sharmila, aged 5 and 8, are now Muslims — but in the custody of their non-Muslim mother. MCCBCHST demands answers from those with authority in Malaysia regarding the following:1. Was the Cabinet decision in April 2009 a flash in the pan to pacify nonMuslim Malaysians because of the numerous cases of such gross injustice? 2. Does this Cabinet decision bear any weight at all or do civil servants do as they wish? Would other civil servants be enabled to do likewise with directives from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet?

73

3. Is it not mandatory or at least pragmatic and fair for the Officer converting underage children to verify custody and other issues from their newly- converted parent? 4. Can and will the conversion of the children be reversed as it was premised on untruths? 5. lf the case goes to court, will the Civil Court abdicate their responsibility on a misinterpretation of article l21A? 6. Even if the Civil Court has the courage to maintain the rights of a nonMuslim spouse and the children in her custody in a civil marriage, will the police ensure the enforcement of the decision, and will the Islamic authorities abide by the law? 7. In making this decision, was the Government thinking of the best interests of the children? 8. Will the non-Muslim parent get justice? The Federal Court had the occasion in the recent past to settle this matter in Shamala’s case; however they chose not to address it because Shamala had left the country

Religious Bill splits Cabinet after divisive election
JULY 04, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Some of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Cabinet have spoken out in dissent over a Bill that would let a single parent or guardian convert their child to Islam without their partner’s consent.

74

The proposed change has sparked protests from the prime minister’s biggest coalition partners, as well as leaders of religious and ethnic minorities in the Muslim-majority nation. The row comes as Parliament resumed last week after May’s general election which saw support for the government slide to its lowest level in more than 55 years. “Certain sections of the Bill can be detrimental to non- Muslims,” Datuk G. Palanivel (picture), a minister who heads the MIC in Najib’s governing Barisan Nasional coalition, said in a phone interview. “The government should propose a fairer version of the Bill, taking into account individual rights and civil liberties.” The heads of some other parties representing minority groups in Najib’s coalition, including the MCA, have also protested the proposed amendment, testing the alliance’s unity as economic growth slows. Net foreign direct investment dropped 17 per cent last year to US$10.1 billion (RM31.3 billion) as spending in neighbours including Singapore and Indonesia increased, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development last week. ‘Going Backwards?’ “If you are a businessman or investor and considering where to invest, this issue will emerge,” Tan Teng Boo, the Kuala Lumpur-based chief executive officer at Capital Dynamics Asset Management Sdn., said in an interview today. “These things are bound to come up. Why would I want to be in a country that seems to be going backwards?” About 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 29.6 million-strong population are Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook. Under the Constitution, all ethnic Malays are automatically Muslims and followers of other races, including Chinese and Indians, aren’t allowed to leave the religion. In a court case in 2007, Lina Joy lost an appeal to stop the government referring to her as a Muslim on her identity card so that she could marry her Catholic boyfriend. In April this year, a Hindu hair salon owner discovered that her estranged husband had converted their two children to Islam without her knowledge, the Malaysia Chronicle reported on June 22. Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department overseeing Islamic affairs, tabled the proposed amendment to the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 for a first reading in Parliament on June 26. The Cabinet has since discussed the matter and will seek a fairer solution, Bernama reported on July 1, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Jamil Khir couldn’t be immediately reached for comment today. Dwindling Support Najib’s coalition retained power in the May 5 election even after failing to get a majority of the popular vote for the first time since 1969, which the prime minister attributed to a loss of support from Chinese voters. Islam is recognised as the official religion of Malaysia, which Najib describes as a “moderate” Islamic nation, and non- Muslims have the right to choose and practice their own faith. The

75

Southeast Asian country has a dual legal system with a British-styled civil court system and a separate syariah, or Islamic legal system, that governs marriage, inheritance and other family matters for Muslims. ‘Fundamentally Unjust’ The provision is “fundamentally unjust as it denies the rights of one parent on the welfare of his or her children,” Datuk Paul Low, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said in a phone interview yesterday. Christopher Leong, president of the Malaysian Bar Council, said the proposed amendment was “unconstitutional” in a June 18 statement. He pointed to a Cabinet directive in 2009 announced by Datuk Nazri Aziz, then de facto law minister, that children of an estranged couple should remain in the religion of the parents at the point of marriage. Nazri, now tourism minister, also spoke out against the proposed legislative change this week, saying it’s unfair to non-Muslims, The Star newspaper reported today. — Bloomberg - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/religious-bill-splitscabinet-after-divisive-election#sthash.r7YynbMt.dpuf

A Bill that Does Not Fit
By Kee Thuan Chye – 19 hours ago

By Kee Thuan Chye The amendment to Clause 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 2013, tabled for passing this month, is going to be one helluva bill. Voting on it will see whether representatives of certain component parties within the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will break from the party line and vote according to their own conscience. The MCA, the MIC and Gerakan, avowedly looking after the interests of non-Muslims, have been critical of the bill. It will therefore be a real test of their integrity to vote against it. Abstaining from voting will not be enough. They must walk their talk. From the layman’s point of view, the bill seems to be simply about granting either parent of a child below the age of 18 the right to convert the child to Islam. The front-page headline of the July 3 edition of theSun sums it up: ‘Mom or dad?’ And if one were to apply simple logic, the answer would be obvious. Since both parents gave life to the child and are responsible for its growth, why should it be that only one is enough to decide? But the issue is not so simple. It never is when it comes to religion. And more than that, this current bill indicates an about-turn by the Cabinet.

76

In April 2009, the Cabinet had decided that children should remain in the religion of their parents at the time of the latter’s marriage if one of the parents decided to convert. It even declared that the Government would ban parents from secretly converting children. The Cabinet also decided that outstanding issues in a marriage should be settled before conversion to prevent children from becoming the victims. In fact, two months later, the Government then proceeded to table a bill on these matters, but it was delayed by the Conference of Rulers. Nazri Aziz, the then de facto law minister, even expressed disappointment over the delay. But after that, no effort was made to revive the bill. It’s unfortunate that the 2009 bill didn’t get its day in Parliament. The stand it reflected appears to be an accommodating one that takes into consideration the feelings of nonMuslims. In today’s context, it would cohere with any intention the Government may have of actually bringing about “national reconciliation” instead of just talking about it. But instead, the Government has now taken an opposite stand. Why? Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defends it on the grounds that the Cabinet was guided by a Federal Court ruling on a previous case as well as the provisions of the Federal Constitution. He did not elaborate, but the understanding is, he was referring to the Federal Court ruling of December 2007 in the R. Subashini case in which the court said Subashini’s husband, T. Saravanan, had the right to convert their four-year-old son to Islam without the knowledge of the mother. It said that according to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, the consent of only one parent was sufficient in the conversion of a child. “The argument that both parents are vested with equal right to choose is misplaced,” it added. This statement is now being disputed by several quarters. The Bar Council says such conversion of children without the consent of both parents amounts to an “unauthorised alteration” of the Constitution that came about with a new Malay translation of Article 12(4) that saw print in 2002.

77

Article 12(4) states that “the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian”. Bar Council president Christopher Leong points out that “parent”, although in singular form, refers to both parents as this was in accordance with the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution, which clarifies that “words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular”. Before 2002, the Malay translation of “parent” in Article 12(4) was “ibubapa” (father and mother) and therefore correct. But the new translation has it as “ibu atau bapa” (mother or father). As such, the Bar Council contends, the confusion caused by the translation cannot be grounds for amending an Act. MIC Deputy President and Health Minister S. Subramaniam points to the same discrepancy in translation and holds it responsible for the current controversy. However, he would not commit himself to saying that the MIC would vote against the bill. Instead, he said, “I don’t think it will reach that stage.” This makes one wonder if the tabling of the bill might not just be a sandiwara to appease Muslim conservatives, and perhaps some Umno members as well in view of the upcoming Umno general assembly which promises to be a high-stakes event for leaders who will be standing for party elections. Besides, Muhyiddin’s defense of the bill is questionable on both counts. First, the Federal Court ruling was made in 2007, so if, as he says, the Cabinet is now guided by it, why did it come up with a contrary stand in 2009 that was accommodating of both parents? Second, the provisions of the Constitution that he mentions are predicated on a translation discrepancy. Surely, the Government is smart enough to spot that and realise that it cannot be used to support an amendment? Reading between the lines of the discourse over the bill (Muhyiddin saying the Government will try and find “a fair solution”; Nazri Aziz saying that he still stands by the 2009 Cabinet decision and opining that the Constitution “must be read as inclusive, not exclusive, especially when it comes to religion”; and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom saying, “We will take a look at the bill as best we can and refer to all views.”), I suspect that the Government may not really want to push it through.

78

If it does, it will be seen to have been insincere in 2009. More significantly, it will further alienate non-Muslim citizens, who might look at this as retaliation by BN for its massive loss of non-Malay support at the recent general election. It may be that BN, particularly Umno, has decided to give up on winning the support of those who do not support it and instead concentrate on those who do. If so, we can expect the Government to play the religion and race cards more strongly from now on. In which case this bill could just be the harbinger of more exclusivist actions and policies. Whatever the motive and whether the bill will be passed, the move to table it already says something about the Government. It neither intends to bring about “national reconciliation” nor change its style of governance. This being so, it will only succeed in making many Malaysians believe in it less. * Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, and the latest volume, Ask for No Bullshit, Get Some More!

‘Cabinet must have approved Conversion Bill’
Leven Woon | July 4, 2013

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim wants to know why certain ministers are only rejecting the Bill now after it has been approved by the Cabinet.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has urged ministers who openly rejected the proposed Conversion Bill to come clean on how the Bill was approved in the Cabinet before it was tabled in Parliament.

79

He told a press conference in the Parliament’s lobby today that Tourism Ministers Nazri Aziz and Minister in the Prime Minister Department Paul Low should have blocked the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act Amendment Bill 2013 when it was discussed in the Cabinet. “You must explain why was it approved in Cabinet, why were you silent when the Bill was tabled?” he said. Low said yesterday that the proposed amendment which allows conversion of minor to Islam with the consent of one, instead of both parent, is a denial of the parents’ rights. Nazri also said that he was uncomfortable with the new amendment because it was unfair to say that only one parent can determine the child’s religion. ‘Jusof denies report’ Meanwhile on a separate matter, Anwar said former Indonesian president Jusof Kalla has denied condemning him as what was reported in an article of Merdeka Online.com In the article published last month and latter quoted by Berita Harian and New Straits Times, writer Al-Azharri Sidiq had claimed that he met Jusof for an hour in his house, where Jusof claimed that Washington had played a part to influence the 13th general election results. The writer also claimed that Jusof had told Anwar off when Anwar insisted rejecting the election results due to the indelible ink and phantom voters’ issues. The duo was also said to have discussed the future of Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah. Anwar said today that Jusuf has told him in an email exchange that what was written in the article was false and he has filed four objections to Berita Harian. “He told me that Berita Harian has misquoted him,” Anwar said. Meanwhile, the Permatang Pauh MP also condemned the Egypt coup d’état, saying the military should not have deposed president Mohamed Morsi even though certain people were unhappy with him. He said Morsi was elected in a “free and fair” election in Egypt. “They are some people trying to rationalize (the coup) by saying it is because of the government’s weakness, but this can be challenged by asking for swift electoral process, but you can not condone military coup in any form,” he said.

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/04/cabinet-musthave-approved-conversion-bill/#sthash.wuKAvUlk.dpuf

‘Conversion bill signals Umno’s demise’
Athi Shankar | July 4, 2013

DAP's Ramakrishnan says it's part of an agenda to punish non-Malay voters.

80

GEORGE TOWN: A former senator today linked the tabling of the controversial religious conversion Bill to an alleged Umno agenda to punish non-Malays for rejecting Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election. S Ramakrishnan, an official of Selangor DAP, said in a press statement that Umno was becoming increasingly insensitive to the feelings of non-Malays, especially since the May 5 election. However, he added, the party’s attempt to whip up chauvinistic sentiments was bound to backfire and would hasten its downfall. The results of the recent election, according to him, could be taken as a sign that Umno’s end was near, for it showed that young and urban Malays were turning their backs on the party. Ramakrishnan also said the bill to amend the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act, if passed, would scuttle Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s programme to shape the character of Malaysia’s plural society into one that would be deserving of the “Truly Asia” label. “The Malaysia-is-Truly-Asia image that the country is trying hard to push is the diametric opposite of the increased radicalisation of Umno,” he said. “This is truly worrying.” The bill, which was tabled last week, includes a clause that allows the mother or father or guardian of a minor to convert him or her to Islam without the consent of the other parent. Many BN leaders outside Umno have expressed strong objections to the clause, arguing that it was fundamentally unjust as it denied the right of one parent over his or her children. Ramakrishnan noted that the Federal Cabinet in 2009 had decided that the consent of both parents would be required in the conversion of minors. He asked why the government had now decided to go against that decision. He also asked the promoters of the Bill to explain why they were going against the opinion of respected Islamic scholars on the question of religious conversion. He quoted the following statement by Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa: “The essential question before us is: Can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is: ‘Yes, they can’ because the Qur’an says, ‘Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,’ [Qur'an, 109:6] and ‘Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him

81

disbelieve,’ [Qur'an, 18:29], and, ‘There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is distinct from error’ [Qur'an, 2:256].”

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/04/conversionbill-signals-umnos-demise/#sthash.OQbrkSlA.dpuf

Non-Muslim ministers asleep?
B Nantha Kumar | July 4, 2013

They must accept responsibility for the new conversion bill, says an Indian group.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS) took non-Muslim ministers to task today for their silence when the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was discussed in the Federal Cabinet before its presentation in Parliament. A MIPAS press statement said those ministers must take full responsibility for the bill, which was tabled last week and has attracted criticism from several quarters for its alleged insensitivity to non-Muslim concerns. “These ministers are the ones we should blame,” MAPAS secretary S Barathidasan said. “The bill allows the consent of just one parent before a child is converted to Islam. In other words, it allows for unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.” Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently disclosed that the bill was discussed in the cabinet in detail before it was tabled in Parliament. “This means,” Barathidasan said, “that all non-Muslim ministers were aware of the bill even before it was made public. They could have objected to it at the cabinet level. Why didn’t they do it? “I wonder why they are now making noise in the media when they could have stopped it at its roots.” He said the controversy over the proposed law was just one of many instances to show that Barisan Nasional leaders had been hoodwinking the public through their media statements.

82

He noted that the conversion issue had been in the news since at least 2009 and alleged that no minister had said anything reflecting the concerns of non-Muslims. Clause 107(b) of the new bill states that a non-Muslim can convert to Islam if he is of sound mind, but a subject below the age of 18 can do so with the consent of his or her mother, father or guardian. Seeds of division In another development, MIC strategic director S Vell Paari said the proposed amendment to the Bill would only lead to religious tension and further worsen the brain drain in the country. “Our nation’s foundation rests on mutual respect and tolerance. Amendments such as this will only serve to shatter our foundation. “To safeguard the future of this nation, sensible voices must always prevail, not only in this issue, but in all matters regarding race and religion. “Let us not sow the seeds of division,” he said in a statement. On that note, he added that Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz was right in publicly rejecting the Bill.

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/04/non-muslimministers-asleep/#sthash.mC9mZlcL.dpuf

Children should not be forced to convert, says ex-Perlis mufti
BY BOO SU-LYN JULY 04, 2013

Asri says children should have the freedom to choose their own religion upon turning 15. — Picture by Choo Choy May

83

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Children should not be forcefully converted to Islam, former Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainul Abidin has said as non-Muslim tempers continue to flare over a newlymooted law permitting the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. Instead, Asri said children should be allowed to decide which religious beliefs they want to profess upon turning 15, while their Muslim convert father should be given the right to educate them in Islam should the court grant custody to their non-Muslim mother in divorce cases. “Leave the matter to the children. It’s a free country,” Asri told The Malay Mail Online in an exclusive interview here yesterday. “If you force someone to embrace something they don’t like, they may want to change religions. Then, apostasy cases will happen again,” said the well-known Muslim scholar. Non-Muslim groups, the Malaysian Bar and politicians on both sides of the divide have denounced the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which allows the unilateral conversion of children below 18 years to Islam, as unconstitutional. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam suggested on Tuesday that a translation error was at the centre of the religious row on the Bill that was tabled in Parliament last week. Subramaniam reportedly said that the Malay version of section 107(b) of the proposed law, which states the conversion of a minor requires the consent of a “parent or guardian”, was not in line with the English version. The MIC deputy president noted that the Malay version translates the word “parent” to “ibu atau bapa” (“mother or father”). But Asri pointed pointed out that the Quran states there is “no compulsion in religion”, the same line that invited controversy last year when PKR MP Nurul Izzah Anwar declared it during a forum. Asri said that according to the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, which is a commentary of the Quran, that statement was revealed when the Ansar community in Madinah embraced Islam and wanted their children — who had been sent earlier to the Jews to be baptised — to be similarly converted to Islam. “For that, Allah revealed that there’s no compulsion in Islam,” said Asri. “So, nobody can force others to embrace a religion, not even their parents.” Asri pointed out that if Muslims were afraid of children choosing religious faiths other than Islam, they should educate children well. “If you educate someone and you believe that Islam is a strong religion and has more evidence than others, people will embrace the religion full-heartedly,” he said.

84

Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman said on Tuesday that the conversion of children to Islam should require the consent of both parents as religious conversions are a “big issue”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country. But cases since then, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/children-should-not-beforced-to-convert-says-ex-perlis-mufti#sthash.MdL52nte.dpuf

Dr Asri: Terima Islam kerana kesedaran, bukan paksaan
9:15AM Jul 4 2013 WAWANCARA Ibu atau bapa yang memeluk Islam dicadang tidak terburu-buru mengislamkan anak-anak kecil mereka, sebaliknya memberi pendidikan Islam sehingga mereka cukup matang untuk memilih agama sendiri. Ia dibuat bekas mufti Perlis, Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin dalam satu wawancara dengan Malaysiakini dua minggu lalu. Menurut Asri, pendidikan Islam oleh seorang Muslim kepada anaknya adalah hak yang perlu ditunaikan walaupun anak-anak itu dijaga oleh bekas pasangan yang bukan Muslim. "Anak diserah kepada emak pun tidak mengapa tetapi oleh kerana Islam adalah agama rasmi dalam negara ini, agama Persekutuan dalam negara ini, hendaklah diperuntukkan bahawa hak bapa untuk mengajar Islam kepada anak (perlu ditunaikan)," katanya. Jelasnya, cadangan itu bukanlah satu hukum namun ijtihad (pendapat) ulama yang mengambil kira aspek perundangan negara dan kemaslahatan (manfaat) untuk anak itu sendiri. Menurut Asri, tahap kematangan anak-anak itu untuk memilih agamanya boleh dibincangkan menurut peruntukan undang-undang. "Umur matang atau umur baligh kita boleh bincang kerana kita bukan berurusan dengan masalah hukum tetapi masalah Perlembagaan," katanya. Tafsiran 'tiada paksaan dalam agama'

85

Jelasnya, beliau maklum bahawa hukum fikah zaman dahulu menetapkan agama anak perlu mengikut agama salah seorang ibu atau bapanya yang Muslim. Namun katanya, mengambil kira tafsiran ayat Quran tentang "tiada paksaan dalam agama" yang dibuat sarjana Ibnu Kathir, beliau percaya Islam perlu diterima kerana kesedaran dan bukan kerana paksaan. "Ayat ini turun antara sebabnya, kata Ibnu Kathir, adalah kerana bapa orang-orang Ansar masuk Islam dahulunya menyerahkan anak-anak mereka kepada (orang) Yahudi. "Apabila mereka masuk Islam, mereka rasa kesedaran untuk ambil balik anak mereka supaya menjadi Muslim bersama mereka. "Lalu Allah turunkan (ayat) tidak ada paksaan dalam agama. Ertinya anak sendiri tak boleh dipaksa (memeluk Islam). "Sebab apa? Kerana Islam diterima sebab kesedaran, bukan sebab paksaan," katanya. Polemik S Deepa Polemik pengislaman kanak-kanak bawah umur mula dibincangkan apabila S Deepa, 29, mendakwa suaminya N Viran, 30, yang memeluk Islam, mengambil anak mereka - Mithan, 5 dan Sharmila,8 - dari tadika di Jelebu April lalu dan mengislamkan mereka. Deepa menggesa Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Paroi yang menjadi tempat kanak-kanak itu diislamkan agar membatalkan proses itu kerana beliau tidak pernah bersetuju dengan tindakan itu. Sidang parlimen kali ini juga hangat membincangkan rang undang-undang kontroversi yang memberi hak kepada ibu atau bapa menukar agama anak bawah umur. Ia adalah pindaan kepada Seksyen 107(b) Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah Persekutuan) (Pindaan) 2013 yang akan memberikan hak menukar agama kanakkanak di bawah umur 18 tahun kepada salah seorang ibu bapa yang telah memeluk Islam.

Interfaith panel, MCA seek removal of certain clauses in 'conversion' bill
First Published: 7:52pm, Jul 03, 2013 Last Updated: 12:47am, Jul 04, 2013 by Chen Shaua Fui KUALA LUMPUR (July 3): The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and the MCA are in agreement over the need to remove several clauses in a controversial bill that are seen as "violating religious freedom". Representatives of the various religious groups met with MCA legislators today seeking their support to oppose the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill in Parliament. MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that the MCA was in agreement with the council's stand and will oppose to the Bill in Parliament.

86

During the one-hour long meeting, delegates of the MCCBCHST drew MCA's attention to Clause 51(3)(b)(X) and (XI) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill that provides for the Syariah Court to determine whether a person is a Muslim. Clause 51(3)(b)(X) gives the power to the Syariah Court to declare that a person is no longer a Muslim, while Clause 51(3)(b)(XI) provides that the Syariah Court shall decide whether a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death. Describing these clauses as "violating religious freedom", Liow said that the government should hold consultations with various stakeholders before tabling the Bill. "Cabinet must amend the bill or retract the bill. MCA will oppose the related proviso," said Liow, who is also the Bentong MP. The group had met with Minister in Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup this morning and will meet DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng this evening. "We appeal to all MPs to put aside their differences, they must exercise their right in a fair and just manner, so that the right of a normal person is also protected," said Sardar Jagir Singh, deputy president of MCCBCHST. Jagir said that the new provisions have far reaching consequences, as the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to decide whether a person is a Muslim. "Any conversion needs witnesses, any dispute as of the conversion, the proper place (to decide whether a person is Muslim or non-Muslim) will be in Civil Court, not Syariah Court," he said, adding that both Muslims and non-Muslims should have access to the Syariah Court. Civil rights lawyer Andrew Khoo added that when a person ceases to believe in Islam, he or she is no longer a Muslim, therefore there is no need for a declaration. Even if the status is disputed, the venue to decide should be the Civil Court, because the Syariah Court only has jurisdiction over Muslims. The council also raised concerns over Clause 107B of the Bill that provides for either parent to convert a minor below 18 years old to Islam. Jagir also pointed out that the council is aware of a similar section in the Islamic Enactment in other states, and had presented a memorandum on Oct 20, 2005, to the government asking for the section to be repealed, but to no avail. When asked if the government consulted MCA on the Bill, Liow said: "Actually, this goes back to the history in 2009... the cabinet discussed this, we objected... so this is 2013, that's why I said that there must be enough consultation before it goes to Parliament. It was very clear that at the time, we stated our position very clearly." However, Liow later explained that the issue in 2009 was related to the proposed amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 that allows for one parent to convert minors to Islam. Also present at the meeting were Labis MP Chua Tee Yong, Tanjung Malim MP Ong Ka Chuan, MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok, members of MCA religious affairs bureau and MCA legal bureau. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/interfaith-panel-mca-seek-removal-certain-clausesconversion-bill#ixzz2Y5CuKeo1

87

An 's' too little? Making an ass of the law
Written by Tay Tian Yan

The absence of a little "s" could mean a whole world of difference! The word "parents" normally denote both the father and mother of a person, while the singular form "parent" could mean either the father or the mother. But health minister Dr S. Subramaniam has his own way of defining the word "parent" without the "s," claiming it could mean the same thing as "parents," both the father and mother. I'm not trying to conduct a grammar lesson here, nor has what I'm going to say anything to do with the health ministry. However, the issue is going to have a major bearing on the rights of people of different faiths, and how they are going to get along with one another. Under the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 recently tabled in the Parliament, the consent of one parent alone is sufficient for the conversion of minor children to Islam. The following case is purely my own supposition and is fictitious: David and Mary were married and later gave birth to a son George. 15 years later, David was converted to a Muslim, had his name changed to Mohamad, and divorced Mary. Under the Bill, Mohamad can have his son converted to Islam without the consent of Mary. But the problem is, the Bill entrusts the religion of the child to his father while denying the right of his mother Mary. And the worse thing is, once George is also converted to Islam, Mary will very likely lose her custodial right on him. In addition, the now young man George may have to deal with the reality of his abrupt conversion. Is our law fair to Mary? Or the personal needs and rights of the young man himself?

88

The Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 affects not only Muslims, but also the rights and status of non-Muslims. Was the decision made after serious deliberations and unanimously approved by the Cabinet? How can such a lopsided bill that has yet to secure some social consensus nor conduct effective communication with people embracing different faiths be recklessly tabled in the Parliament in an attempt to legislate it when even some Cabinet ministers remain in the dark over this whole thing. "Absurd" is the right word to describe it! Subramaniam explained that the controversies arose because of misunderstanding over the translated version of the Bill, where the words "parent or guardian" were rendered. As if that was not enough, the minister supplemented with his own interpretation, claiming that words in singular form could also take a plural meaning. Trying to interpret the word "parent" without the "s" as both parents is dangerous. Do we need a language professor from Cambridge to testify in the court in the event of a conflict or disagreement in the future? Moreover, the words rendered in the Bahasa Malaysia version are "ibu atau bapa," which is selfexplanatory: either the father's or the mother's consent is sufficient to convert a minor child without the need for the approval of the other. For official legal documents, in the event of any conflict between the BM and English versions, the BM version shall prevail. Apparently, this is no more an issue of translation, but that the Bill does empower either parent the right to make unilateral decisions at the expense of the other parent. Such a dilemma may happen in many families in our multicultural and multireligious society. Any inequilibrium or inequality from the laws could instantly spark conflicts and disgruntlement. The legal fraternity generally agrees the Bill has itself contravened the federal constitutional spirit while a former Cabinet minister confided that it overran previously achieved consensus within the Cabinet. There is no other option for the government except withdrawing the Bill, or a breach in interfaith harmony will ensue, which is not what Malaysians would want to see. - Sin Chew Daily

Read more: http://www.malaysiachronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=123762:an-s-too-little?-making-an-ass-ofthe-law&Itemid=2#.UdT5lDssXfs#ixzz2Y31mCUsv

89

BOPIM to go to court if child conversion Bill is passed
Thursday, 04 July 2013 admin-s

"And what is distasteful is the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister that this amendment is to be made in line with current guidelines. This is just an excuse and if there are such guidelines then they are illegal too" Daniel John Jambun The Borneo Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIM) has decided to take the same stance as Gerakan that if the proposed amendment to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) is passed, it will go to court to sue the Federal Government. The amendments, hinging on the use of the word ‘parent’ instead of ‘parents’, makes it legal for a father or a mother, or guardian, who converts to Islam, to convert to Islam his or her children below the age of 18. The President of the UK-based foundation, Daniel John Jambun, said in statement here that this decision is based purely on the pursuit and preservation of justice for nonMuslims in Malaysia which is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. Jambun said that this Bill is in direct contravention of the Constitution, and for Sabahans, it is another violation of a promise made before Malaysia Day in the 20 Points which states in Point No. 1 that "... there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo." "And what is distasteful is the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister that this amendment is to be made in line with current guidelines. This is just an excuse and if there are such guidelines then they are illegal too," Jambun said. "The other nonsensical

90

defence is by Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria who said that the Bill was only formalizing a standard practice which was agreed upon 'since Merdeka Day'. This is actually an admittance by the Mufti that there has been such an illegal and unconstitutional practice since 1957." Jambun accuses the Mufti of twisting facts when he said that non-Muslims complaining about the Bill "only want to incite hatred towards Muslims." "On the other hand I would say that, this Bill is purposely made in bad faith, to deny more human rights of non-Muslims in Malaysia, and in doing so, it incites great disappointment and frustration among non-Muslims," Jambun said. "And when we try to protect our rights we are accused of inciting hatred. This is pure hypocrisy expressed in reverse psychology! But we are not stupid! "I salute Dompok for his strong stance in objecting to Bill saying that it runs counter to the Government's transformation plans, especially the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation. And I hand over BOPIM's applauses to the Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing for describing the Bill as a 'flagrant violation of the equality of persons’ provisions of the federal constitution'." The latest to voice opposition to the Bill came yesterday from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low who demanded that the provision under Clause 107B be struck off because "it 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 well-being.” "I also agree that there may be a hidden diabolical intent in the whole move," Jambun said. "Let's be aware that under the Guardianship of Infants Act which applies to nonMuslims, both parents are equal guardians of their children and have equal parental rights. However, under Syariah laws in Malaysia, fathers are the guardians of minor children – not the mothers. "This proposed law then is one which will rob children of their human right to choose their religion when they reach 18 years of age," Jambun added. "And it seems that this is intended as another diabolic agenda to suppress non-Muslims." Jambun was also highly critical of the other Christian KDM leaders in the Federal Cabinet who are keeping mum on the issue. "These leaders were voted into office by their constituents to protect their rights and to speak on their behalf. But why are they playing dumb?" Jambun demanded. "Why is Dompok the only KDM BN leader speaking for the non-Muslim KDMs? Have the other KDM leaders decided to go into another dumb and dumber act, fearing for the security of their favours in BN?

91

"This has been the attitude and cowardly character of most leaders from Sabah since 1963, and this is the real reason we are in this situation where we continue to be bullied by Peninsular leaders who take us for granted. They still believe we are too scared to speak up for our rights," Jambun said. "And these leaders are proving that this assumption is right."

MCA to oppose broadening of syariah court’s powers
BY IDA LIM JULY 04, 2013UPDATED: JULY 04, 2013 08:48 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — The MCA has vowed to fight in Parliament against a proposed law giving the syariah court extensive powers to decide an individual’s Muslim status, after its leaders met with the country’s largest non-Muslim interfaith group here. MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (picture) reportedly labelled a few clauses in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 as violating freedom of religion. “Cabinet must amend the Bill or retract the Bill. MCA will oppose the related proviso,” Liow was quoted saying by news portal fz.com. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) had in a meeting with the MCA yesterday shared its concerns on section 107 (b), clauses 51(3)(b)(X) and 51(3)(b)(XI) of the Bill. The two clauses are on the syariah court’s jurisdiction to decide an individual’s religious status. According to the news portal, clause 51(3)(b)(X) empowers the syariah court to declare that a person is no longer a Muslim, with the other clause giving the syariah court power to decide on whether a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of death. Sardar Jagir Singh, MCCBCHST’s deputy president, said jurisdiction in legal disputes over the religious status of individuals should lie with the civil court instead of the syariah court.

92

“Any conversion needs witnesses, any dispute as of the conversion, the proper place (to decide whether a person is Muslim or non-Muslim) will be in civil court, not syariah court,” he was quoted saying by fz.com. Jagir also said the syariah court should be accessible to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Earlier yesterday, the MCCBCHST had also met with Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, the new minister in charge of national unity and integration in the Najib Cabinet amid simmering tensions against the proposed law. When contacted yesterday, National Unity and Integration Department (NIUD) director-general Datuk Azman Amin Hassan told The Malay Mail Online that Kurup was “getting some feedback at the grassroots” before the minister brings up the issue at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting. The Malay Mail Online understands that the Catholic Lawyers Society also met Kurup yesterday afternoon to voice out its grievances on the Bill. Since the tabling of the Bill last Wednesday, critics and non-Muslim groups have said that the proposed section 107 (b) — which would allow for conversion of minors to Islam without the need for consent from both parents — is unconstitutional and is against a 2009 decision by Cabinet. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversion have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/mca-to-opposeconversion-law-on-syariah-courts-powers#sthash.hw6gApdi.dpuf

Pressure on non-Muslim BN leaders to move on conversion bill
BY JENNI FER GOM EZ J ULY 04, 2013

93

Non-Muslim Barisan Nasional leaders – already weak from their pummelling in the recent general election as Umno saved the day for the ruling coalition – now face their biggest test since the polls. At least two such ministers and one MCA leader have been receiving demands from religionbased groups that they must take a strong stand against a Bill tabled by the government last week to allow one parent alone to convert the religion of a minor, even against the wishes of the other parent. This Bill is seen by many non-Muslims as the second stinging betrayal by the government after leaders reversed their position that non-Muslims could use the Arabic word, Allah, to describe their god. At stake is the non-Muslim political leaders’ credibility with an influential constituency, nonMuslim religion-based leaders. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup (pic) was told yesterday by leaders from a broad religious ensemble, in no uncertain terms, that he must take a clear message to Cabinet. The Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) met with Kurup, who also is the minister in charge of national unity and integration, and demanded that two controversial clauses be removed from the bill. They want changes or the withdrawal of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill altogether. MCCBCHST deputy president Jagir Singh said they made their position clear to the minister and added: "The minister told us he will convey our message to the Cabinet on Friday." The controversial clauses which they want deleted from the Bill are Section 107 (b), which allows for unilateral conversion of children by just one parent and three sub-clauses in Section 51 which provides for the Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is Muslim or not.

94

He added that the council also met with representatives from the MCA, and in the meeting chaired by Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, the Chinese-based party also agreed that the two clauses should be removed. "We share a similar stand," Jagir said. Yesterday evening, Kurup also met the Catholic Lawyers Society of Kuala Lumpur, who gave their views on the Bill. Society president Viola Lettice DeCruz said: "The minister has asked us to submit a more comprehensive report on our concerns for him to bring up to the Cabinet." Another lawyer present at the meeting, Francis Pereira, said: "As minister in charge of national unity and integration, he seemed interested in what we had to say. We are now hoping he will bring it up to the powers that be." Earlier, another non-Muslim minister, Datuk Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department also said that clause 107B of the Bill should not be allowed. He said: “That clause 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." His statement followed comments made by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz who had said he was against the Bill, maintaining his 2009 stand that conversion to Islam cannot be done unilaterally by one parent. Nazri was the de facto Law minister then. Yesterday, he reiterated that the Bill was unfair to non-Muslims. "As a lawyer and a Muslim, I am not comfortable with this situation. Personally, I want this reviewed," he said. – July 4, 2013.

Two ministers join chorus against conversion Bill
BY ELI ZABETH ZACHARI AH AND JENNI FER GOM EZ J ULY 03, 2013

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.

95

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 nonMuslim 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. This breaking of ranks by the ministers led several opposition MPs to wonder if there was a process of consultation in Cabinet. PKR MP for Bukit Katil Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin wanted to know why Nazri raised his objection now and not before when the Bill was tabled. "Was he even briefed on this as a Cabinet member?" Shamsul asked. PAS Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli was equally stumped. "Coming from a Cabinet Minister, it makes me wonder, whether the Cabinet discussed the bill before it was tabled, " he said, hoping that the Cabinet would now relook the amendment. R Sivarasa, PKR's MP for Subang, hoped that Nazri would convince other members of the Cabinet to also reject the amendment. It is not only Pakatan Rakyat who are reacting adversely to the Bill. MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that his party also rejected the clause. Till now, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has maintained silence on this issue. His deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended the Cabinet's decision to table the Bill, saying that it was in line with a court decision. - July 3, 2013.

Conversion law easily exploited in custody cases, warns Muslim women group
96

BY BOO SU-LYN JULY 03, 2013

Two children are seen getting ready for a performance at a carnival in Shah Alam, Selangor. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam. – Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 – The proposed law on unilateral conversions of children to Islam can be exploited to secure child custody in divorce cases, a Muslim women’s group said today. Sisters in Islam (SIS) programme manager Suri Kempe also said that parents should not convert their children to Islam on their behalf, stressing that religious conversions should be initiated by children on their own free will when they understand the significance of such conversions. “It creates a loophole that people can exploit,” Suri told The Malay Mail Online today, referring to the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which permits unilateral conversion for children below 18 years. “Why are we encouraging people to convert in silence? Sometimes parents do it out of spite because they want to get custody. It’s inherently unfair and unjust,” she added. Suri highlighted the case of R. Subashini, where the Federal Court ruled in 2007 that her husband – who had embraced Islam – had the right to convert their children to his faith without her consent, leading to the Hindu mother’s fears of losing child custody. Non-Muslim groups, the Malaysian Bar and politicians on both sides of the divide have denounced the Bill – which allows children below 18 years to be converted to Islam with the consent of just one parent – as unconstitutional.

97

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz also voiced his opposition towards the Bill today, maintaining his stand back in 2009 when he was a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department that both parents must consent before a child can convert to Islam. The former de facto law minister pointed out today that unilateral conversions of minors to Islam violated the Federal Constitution. Four years ago, Nazri said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. But Section 107(b) of the Bill was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday. Suri also noted today that conversions to Islam are especially significant as it is “very hard” for a Muslim to leave the faith in Malaysia. “In theory, the constitution provides for it,” said Suri. “But in reality, it’s very hard.” Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman said yesterday that the conversion of children to Islam should require the consent of both parents as religious conversions are a “big issue”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which does not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. The latest case is that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan, who discovered in April that her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/conversion-law-easilyexploited-in-custody-cases-warns-muslim-women-group#sthash.CoViEX2r.dpuf

New bill potentially a ‘tool of manipulation’

Malaysiakini

P Waythamoorthy July 3, 2013

98

Lawmakers should not overlook Section 51(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. The introduction of this bill through its 1st reading on July 26, 2013 has caused an uproar in the Non-Muslim community. The cabinet previously had halted any conversion unilaterally in 2009, therefore the sudden appearance of this bill passing through the cabinet to be tabled appears in contrary to the objective of the ruling government. In conjunction with the controversial Section 107(b) of the new draft bill, there seems to be ambiguity in the language in Section 51 (b) where it appears to encroach into the rights and domain of Non-Muslims. Section 51 (b) states; (b) In its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine all actions andproceedings if all parties to the actions or proceedings are Muslims and the actions or proceedings relate to… The above provision could be used to interpret and sanction a unilateral decision in favour of a Muslim converting partner and Islamic/government authorities as by practice and precedence in syariah matters, the non-Muslim parties have no recourse for either a statutory or equitable remedy. Section 51 (b) (iii), (xi) & (xii) could act as a tool of manipulation with regards to maintenance, custody of children as well as a unilateral declaration on the religious status of disputed deceased partners in controversial conversions cases. In reality, in passing this bill, the syariah court will abrogate the jurisdiction of the civil court in regards to ancillary reliefs for Non-Muslims. Further the bill appears to be in direct confrontation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) that had been ratified. It also conflicts with the spirit of the federal constitution.

99

Bearing the fact that 47 percent of the nation’s population consist of various other religious beliefs, rather than provoking, it would be appropriate for the AG’s department to engage other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MOWFCD), religious leaders, Bar Council and the syariah legal fraternity before tabling such a controversial bill. Any government bill tabled should not antagonise the government’s transformation plans that our prime minister is moving towards with an evolving community in the current generation.

Don’t infringe on non-Muslims’ constitutional rights - Guan Eng
BY LEE SHI -I AN J ULY 03, 2013

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today emphasised the party's consistent stand on issues pertaining to Muslims and their practise of Islam and laws that impact non-Muslims. "DAP would like to stress that it does not oppose any clauses that deal with the welfare of Muslims, but only those provisions which impinge, impair and deprive the constitutional rights of non-Muslims," he said in a statement commenting on the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill. Slamming the government for its "malicious and deceptive trick to hoodwink voters before the 2013 general election" on unilateral conversions, Lim said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had, in April, 2009, taken a stand that consent of both parents was required in cases involving child conversion to Islam. "Now the polls are over, BN has no moral compunctions to betray the voters by altering its stand," Lim said. According to Lim, the reaffirmation of the constitutional provision, which banned unilateral conversion by any single parent of minors to Islam, was made by then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who said any conversion required the consent of both parents. However, the new Bill before the Dewan Rakyat requires only one parent's consent. "DAP opposes any unilateral conversion of children by a single parent to any religion whether it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism.

100

"Our position is that both the parents' consent must be obtained for a legally valid religious conversion for children under 18 as provided for in the Federal Constitution," Lim said. He praised PAS Selangor, which he described as being moderate compared with the BN, after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin proposed that the conversion of children below 18 only required the consent of one parent and not both. Yesterday, Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman voiced his opposition on unilateral child conversions to Islam, saying it was a big decision, which needed the consent of both parents. Muhyiddin proposed the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 in Parliament, which has been tabled for first reading in Dewan Rakyat. He claimed that it was done in accordance with existing laws and that the scope had changed. Lim rubbished this, saying there was no doubt that Muhyiddin was wrong as unilateral child conversion was violating Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution. Lim said DAP leaders would be holding dialogues and meetings with affected groups on the impact of such an unconstitutional provision in the Bill. Among other concerns raised by non-Muslim religious groups is whether the proposed Bill expands the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts in Malaysia beyond what is provided for the Federal Constitution. - July 3, 2013.

DAP: BN betrayed voters with child conversion law
BY IDA LIM JULY 03, 2013

A man walks past DAP banners in Penang. Lim alleged that BN was now rolling out the controversial law after it secured another five years’ rule, having won the May 5 general election. — AFP pic

101

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 – Barisan Nasional’s (BN) defence of a proposed law allowing unilateral child conversions to Islam shows the coalition had “hoodwinked” voters in 2009 with a Cabinet prohibition on the issue then, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today. Lim alleged that BN was now rolling out the controversial law after it secured another five years’ rule, having won the May 5 general election. “Once the general election were over, BN had no moral compunction to betray the voters by changing their position,” Lim said in a statement today. His statement comes amid heated debate over Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. On Monday, however, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended the proposed law, saying that the move was being done according to existing laws. “Clearly this BN position in 2009 was a malicious and deceptive trick played by BN to hoodwink voters before the 2013 general elections.” Lim said in a statement today. Lim in turn praised Islamist party PAS - DAP’s ally in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) - for having a more moderate stand than the ruling BN coalition. “PAS Selangor is more moderate than BN, UMNO and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin by declaring that conversion of children below 18 requires consent of both parents and not one parent,” Lim said. “Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman opposed unilateral child conversions to Islam, saying such a “big” decision needed the consent of both parents,” he said. Yesterday, Rani told The Malay Mail Online that there was no compulsion in Islam, saying: ““If one parent converts and you want that child (to convert), give him information, but you cannot force.” Lim also stated today that DAP is against the unilateral conversion of minors to any religion, reiterating the secular party’s stand that consent from both parents is needed for such conversions in line with Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution. “DAP stresses that DAP does not oppose any clauses that deals with the welfare of those who are Muslims, but only those provisions that impinge, impair and deprive the constitutional rights of non-Muslims,” he later added.

102

Critics of the Section 107 (b) clause in the proposed Bill that was tabled last Wednesday have claimed that it is unconstitutional. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversion have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and Syariah laws, the latter of which does not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dap-bn-betrayedvoters-with-child-conversion-law#sthash.90VusGB4.dpuf

Kit Siang suggests inquiry on translation error in Muslim conversion law
JULY 03, 2013

DAP leader Lim Kit Siang is seen at a rally in Kelana Jaya in this file photo. Lim wants a full inquiry into the translation error that allegedly occurred in the Malay version of the law governing conversion of minors to Islam. – AFP picPETALING JAYA, July 3 – Lim Kit Siang called today for a full inquiry into the translation error that allegedly occurred in the Malay version of the law governing conversion of minors to Islam. The Gelang Patah MP recalled today that when the Administration of the Religion of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act was passed in Parliament in May 1993, it had stipulated the need for dual parental consent when a child under 18 years converts to Islam.

103

“However, when it was gazetted, there was a minor but far-reaching variation in its Bahasa Malaysia version for Section 95(b) permitting unilateral conversion of minors to Islam,” Lim explained. According to Lim, Section 95 in ”Part IX – Conversion to Islam” of the law, in its transition through Parliament had then read (in English and Bahasa Malaysia): “95. For the purpose of this Part, a person who is not a Muslim may convert to Islam if he is of sound mind and – (a) has attained the age of eighteen years; or (b) if he has not attained the age of eighteen years, his parent or guardian consents to his conversion.” “95. Bagi maksud Bahagian ini, seseorang yang tidak beragama Islam boleh masuk Islam jika ia sempurna akal dan – (a) Mencapai umur lapan belas tahun; atau (b) Jika ia belum mencapai lapan belas tahun, ibu bapa atau penjaga mengizinkan kemasukannya.” The gazetted BM version of section 95(b), he said, reads: “Jika dia belum mencapai umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan kemasukannya.” [Translation: If he has not attained the age of 18 years, his mother or father or guardian consents to his conversion.] “There should be a full inquiry as to how such a minor but far-reaching discrepancy could occur between the passage of the bill by Parliament and the gazetting of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993,” Lim said. His suggestion today comes following the public uproar over Putrajaya’s latest move to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which politicians and non-Muslim groups have described as unfair. He welcomed Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz’s remarks earlier today when the latter, who was the minister who announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, spoke out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. Despite this, Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam, was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday.

104

“The constitution must be read as inclusive, not exclusive, especially when it comes to religion,” Nazri, now tourism minister, was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini today. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended the proposed law, saying that the move was being done according to existing laws. But other Barisan Nasional leaders have spoken up against the proposed law, saying it would lead to more cases of complicated custodial tussles where only one parent was Muslim. On Saturday, MCA deputy publicity chief Loh Seng Kok urged for bipartisan resistance towards the law that he described as a trap for non-Muslims. MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel went a step further and recommended that child conversions be banned entirely. The Cameron Highlands MP said the proposed changes to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 should be further amended to forbid any parent from arbitrarily converting his or her child. “(If) any child (is) below 18 years, a single parent cannot convert him or her. It will become a problem,” he said yesterday. Both the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ― the umbrella body of Malaysia’s non-Muslim creeds ― had said the Bill, which aims to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents, was “unconstitutional”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/kit-siang-suggests-inquiry-ontranslation-error-in-muslim-conversion-law#sthash.38Qf61In.dpuf

Kit Siang wants inquiry
J ULY 03, 2013

105

DAP Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang has welcomed Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz’s stand that the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 is unfair. The Bill proposes to allow the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. Lim noted that the 1993 Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act provided that both parents’ consent were required when the bill was debated in Dewan Rakyat in May 1993. And it was clearly stated as such. However, Lim said, when it was gazetted there was a minor but far-reaching variation in its Bahasa Malaysia version for Section 95(b) which permitted unilateral conversion of minors to Islam when Parliament had always intended that both parents needed to give consent. Lim today called for an inquiry as to how such a minor but far-reaching discrepancy could occur between the passing of the Bill by Parliament and the gazetting of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993. - July 3, 2013.

‘Revoke controversial clause of Islamic Bill’
Alyaa Azhar | July 3, 2013

The provision under Clause 107B is fundamentally unjust as it denies the rights of one parent, says Senator Paul Low.

PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low has called for the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act Amendment Bill 2013 to be amended by revoking Clause 107B. “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 well-being,” he said in a statement today.

106

The Bill which is being tabled at the Dewan Rakyat allows unilateral conversion of the religion of a minor by one parent. Clause 107B states that a non-Muslim can convert to Islam if he is of sound mind, and if he has not attained the age of 18 years, and the mother or father or guardian consent to the conversion. Low added that the clause provides an avenue for one parent to conveniently bypass due process of the law to gain custody of the children in the case of a family dispute. “A responsible society cannot support an unrighteous law. It should uphold social justice,” he said.

Meanwhile, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek expressed his party’s objection to the tabling of the Bill as it infringes the rights of the non-Muslims. “The Bill is seen as an infringement of rights of the non-Muslims and although MCA no longer holds position in the Cabinet, we will still ensure the Chinese community’s interest is secured and maintained,” he said. He however expressed his confidence that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will consult all Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties because of the strong objection from MCA and MIC, as well as the public. “I hope that the government will re-look into the Bill and obtain feedback from all relevant parties before making any further decision. “Public consultation is crucial before deciding on any policies that will affect the nation,” said Chua. Since the Bill was tabled in Parliament last week, critics have cried foul because it means seeking the consent of either parent instead of both – a move deemed to be unconstitutional and contravening the Cabinet’s prohibition.

Change occurred when Act was gazetted Meanwhile DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang said a minor but far-reaching change had been incorporated into the 1993 Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act by the time the Act was gazetted later that year.

107

Lim said today that when the Act was debated in the House in 1993, Section 95(b) allowed for unilateral conversion of minors to Islam with the dual parental consent. What was passed by Parliament in May 1993 on Section 95 in “Part IX – Conversion to Islam” stated (English and Bahasa Malaysia): “95. For the purpose of this Part, a person who is not a Muslim may convert to Islam if he is of sound mind and – (a) has attained the age of eighteen years; or (b) if he has not attained the age of eighteen years, his parent or guardian consents to his conversion.” “95. Bagi maksud Bahagian ini, seseorang yang tidak beragama Islam boleh masuk Islam jika ia sempurna akal dan – (a) Mencapai umur lapan belas tahun; atau (b) Jika ia belum mencapai lapan belas tahun, ibu bapa atau penjaga mengizinkan kemasukannya.” However, when it was gazetted, Lim said there was a minor but far-reaching variation in its Bahasa Malaysia version: “(b) jika dia belum mencapai umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan kemasukannya.” “There should be a full inquiry as to how such a minor but far-reaching discrepancy could occur between the passage of the bill by Parliament and the gazetting of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993,” he said in a statement today. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/03/revokecontroversial-clause-of-islamic-bill/#sthash.hzXdrU49.dpuf

Fool me twice, shame on you, is the feeling on conversion bill
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
J ULY 01, 2013

108

When the Government brought to Parliament on Wednesday the most controversial bill in recent times, it not only raised the backs of a lot of people, it also sank their hearts. Mention the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill to them and they will mention back a new buzzword to describe the Government's motives and it’s not a nice one. Betrayal. Of non-Muslims. And for some, twice. And it’s the depth of this feeling that may also inform the election patterns of non-Muslims in the “safe deposit” vote bank of Sabah and Sarawak. Not to mention the already evenly-split Indian vote. Just examine the facts. In April 2009, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced that the Government would ban the automatic conversion of minors to Islam, in a bid to quell unease among nonMuslims in mainly Muslim Malaysia. He said minors were to be bound by the common religion of their parents at the time they were married, even if one parent later becomes a Muslim. And now, this Bill purports to provide that the consent of one parent alone is enough for the conversion of minor children to Islam. "Allah" issue is another hot topic, especially now, since the government's appeal is going through its rounds of case management at the Court of Appeal. The Government is appealing against the 2009 High Court decision that the word “Allah” can be used by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur's weekly newspaper, The Herald, in its Bahasa Malaysia articles. In April 2011, just before the Sarawak elections, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala announced that Christians in East Malaysia can use that word. However, in April this year, PM Najib Razak in an interview with global news station Al Jazeera took the opposite tack. He clearly expressed support for the appeal to overturn a High Court ruling that said it was all right for non-Muslim groups in Malaysia to use the Arabic term “Allah” for God, specifically in Bahasa Malaysia literature. Coming back to the conversion bill, there is another thought. Talk is also rife that just the act of tabling the Bill was itself a strategic move by the government to seek out weak links in the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat. Perhaps PAS parliamentarians may decide to vote in support of unilateral conversion of minors, against the line drawn by their secular partners in the opposition? A veteran politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if that is what the Government is trying to do, it might backfire.

109

This is a double-edged sword, as even government coalition partners MCA and MIC have both made their stand clear – that they are against unilateral conversion - let alone their nonMuslim bumiputera coalition partners from Sabah and Sarawak. "It will expose the weak chains in the Barisan Nasional coalition when issues of race and religion are put to the test like this," the MP said. Giving credibility to this MP’s observation are the list of government partners who have recently expressed concern over this bill. MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu has expressed shock that the Government tabled a bill that contained controversial provisions that affect the constitutional and religious rights of non-Muslims. Datuk Jaspal Singh, MIC treasurer-general, has also expressed shock at Section 107 (b) of the bill, saying that it was an attempt to undermine the Federal Constitution, which requires the consent of both parents for a child to convert. Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Sabah party UPKO president and a former Cabinet minister said the provision was in contradiction to the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation. He has suggested a full discussion by Barisan Nasional on the issue and related religious issues before the government proceeds with the Bill. He also expressed surprise and disappointment that this Bill was even approved by the Cabinet to be tabled at Parliament. Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) deputy president Jagir Singh, who is a member of the inter-religious committee (to promote mutual understanding and harmony among religions) under the Cabinet, also expressed his surprise at the tabling of the Bill. He said that while issues such as conversion and even "body snatching", were discussed as recently as two months ago at the committee, no decision or conclusion was made. "Discussions started two years ago and we had a meeting two months ago, but nothing was decided. So we are surprised it was tabled," he said. Jagir went on to say that if the Bill allowed for one parent to covert a minor, then the other parent can convert the child back, under provisions in the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Jagir, who is also Malaysian Gurdwaras Council president, is equally concerned about another section of the Bill, which gives the Syariah court the power to decide whether a person who died was Muslim or not, saying that this power “has always been and must remain with the civil court”.

110

Jagir had a few strong last words, which he stressed was his personal opinion. "Usually in the issue of conversion, it is the mother's rights which are trampled on. What I want to say is, beware the mother's curse." The former president of MCCBCHST and Malaysia Hindu Sangam, Datuk A. Vaithilingam, echoed Jagir's view, in that the civil court must decide the question and issue of children’s conversion. He said it was very clear in the Federal Constitution that for minors, issues like education, upbringing and religion are the responsibility of the parent, where the word is meant as collective. Vaithilingam added that Muslims had nothing to worry about as they were well protected under Malaysian laws. "For instance, non-Muslims cannot propagate their faith to Muslims. But the non-Muslims don't have this protection," he pointed out. Head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese, Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing SJ, while refusing to call it a betrayal by the government, was no less sharp with his rebuke. "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 Bishop. "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. "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 vapour it takes to avow it." – July 2, 2013.

Where is the compassion?
GUEST COLUMNISTS
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 admin-g

111

Now the most insensitive and ridiculous development has taken place. The Federal Constitution is being ignored. Common sense and fairness to the non-Muslim mother is being thrown out the window. Muslim sensitivity takes precedence, as always in this country. By Dato' Zaid Ibrahim The Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was tabled in Parliament last week in what can only be described as a woeful attempt to address an old issue. When a non-Muslim couple decides to go their separate ways, a custody battle for their children usually ensues. If one parent (usually the father) had converted to Islam in the course of this relationship, then his Muslim right to custody becomes inevitable. As a Muslim, he automatically comes within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. No Muslim court would then deny him custody—a clever move. Under this Bill, he would also be able to convert his child to Islam without his ex-wife’s knowledge as her consent would not be required. The Cabinet had earlier decided that in such cases, the child’s religion should be the one he assumed at birth when the parents shared a religion, until he or she reaches maturity. The rightful thing to do is to stop one spouse from unilaterally converting the child. To accomplish this, the Federal Constitution needs to be amended so that under Article 12(4), the word “parent” means both husband and wife. This proposal was sent to a Special Committee headed by the Prime Minister himself, but this Committee refused to endorse the Attorney-General’s recommendations. The so-called leaders who sat on this committee were afraid of an Islamist backlash, but how being fair to all citizens can become a fearful decision escapes me. Now the most insensitive and ridiculous development has taken place. The Federal Constitution is being ignored. Common sense and fairness to the non-Muslim mother is being thrown out the window. Muslim sensitivity takes precedence, as always in this country. You see, a law such as this does not apply to Muslims. Muslim spouses may quarrel and fight for custody, but neither of them could convert out of Islam. There is no mechanism in place that can even make that possible—apostasy for Muslims is punishable by death, in case you didn’t know. That means Muslim couples would have no interest in this new law. It would be non-Muslims who have to endure the pain. Muslim Parliamentarians will feel that they are doing the religion a favour by supporting the Bill, and since it does not affect them why bother to ponder and reflect on its repercussions? The Barisan Nasional Parliamentarians who are non-Muslim will be disturbed and angry and may even cry foul, but their jobs and business interests will take precedence and they will, ultimately, do nothing. Conscience has no place in their decision making. Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the liberal Islamist, unfortunately misses the point on this hot-potato issue in the local political scene. He will take to the streets for indelible ink that proved not to be so indelible, but he will not do the same for freedom of religion and conscience. That leaves our non-Muslim citizens having to suffer in silence. This has somehow become part of the deal of living in a Muslim country that has clearly forgotten that Islam is a religion of compassion and kindness. Read more here: http://zaiduntukrakyat.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=395&cntnt01origid =15&cntnt01returnid=80

112

Calls for rational solution to religion
NEWS/COMMENTARIES
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 Super Admin

(The Star) - Various groups are calling for a rational solution to a controversial Clause in a recently tabled Bill, which allows a minor to be converted with the consent of only one parent. MIC deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said there could have been a lack of communication in preparing the controversial Section 107(b) Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. “A similar issue was discussed in 2009 by a committee under the then National Unity and Social Development Ministry. At that time, we made proposals for amendments to the Law Reform Act (Marriage and Divorce) and some components of the Islamic enactment for Federal Territories to resolve the issue,” he said, adding that MIC was not consulted over the recent Clause. He said the party was also not aware of the Clause until it was tabled for first reading. “We saw that the Malay translation was not in line with our current thinking. So, we’ll voice our views in Cabinet and see how we can resolve this issue,” he said. It was previously reported in The Star that although the English version of the Bill states that a non-Muslim below 18 years of age may convert to Islam if “his parent or guardian consents to his conversion”, the Malay version of Section 95 amended “ibubapa (parents)” to “ibu atau bapa (mother or father)”. Subramaniam said the translation could have come about because of a legal precedent set in S. Shyamala’s case, in which the Federal Court had interpreted “parent” as either father or mother. “We are stuck with the court’s decision but as far as the Government is concerned, we are committed to finding a solution,” he said. In November 2002, Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah became a Muslim and converted his two young sons without his wife Shamala’s knowledge or consent. In July 2004, the High Court granted Shamala interim custody of the children but the father was allowed access. On whether MIC would vote against the Bill, Dr Subramaniam said: “I don’t think we will reach that stage.”

113

In Batu Pahat, MCA Young Professionals Bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong said all calls to relook the Bill should be viewed objectively to ensure the protection of non-Muslims’ rights. “We have to look at the Bill rationally. We respect that the official religion in the country is Islam. It’s just that we believe certain parts of the Bill may cause more issues,” he said, adding that all processes of the law must be in accordance with the Federal Constitution. On the Government’s assurance that all parties would be consulted before any decision was made, Chua said he was grateful that the Bill was open for discussion. “It means there is room for improvement. It is a good way to resolve the issue,” he said, adding that he was confident MCA would discuss the issue in its next central committee meeting. However, he also noted that there were positive aspects to the Bill, such as allowing qualified non-Muslim syarie lawyers to represent parties in Syariah court proceedings in the three Federal Terri-tories. In George Town, state Gerakan legal and human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh urged Barisan Nasional MPs to vote with their conscience on the Bill. “A child should be allowed to retain his religion and decide only when he is at the age of 18. It is not right to allow one parent to decide on the conversion of religion since both parents are responsible for the child’s upbringing,” he said, urging for the Bill to be withdrawn.

Conversion of minors: No justification
Posted by P Ramakrishnan on 2 July 2013 Add comments

The Federal Court was wrong in its judgment in 2008 about the conversion of minors, says P Ramakrishnan.

Nazri: Spouse who converts into Islam has to also fulfil his or her marital responsibilities according to civil marriage laws. A lot has been said that Islam is a just religion, a religion of peace and compassion. All this is true.

114

In keeping with the virtues and values of Islam, Islamic adherents are under a solemn obligation to give meaning to this by what they do and practise. In other words, the Islamic faithful cannot be indifferent to the fate of someone who is of a different religion. They cannot deny the rights of these people nor can they be dismissive of the suffering when one Islamic faithful leaves his former family in the lurch after converting.

As a human being, he is expected to provide for his wife and children notwithstanding his embrace of Islam. If he fails to discharge this responsibility that is expected of him, should Islam embrace him? Should a man who betrays the trust of a family and abdicates his responsibility be welcome into Islam? Should such people be allowed to bring disrepute to the religion?

Unfortunately this is what is too often happening today. Secretly, the man converts, and all hell breaks loose for the family. He is not bothered. He compounds the misery of his wife by unilaterally converting his children to Islam. He shatters the life of a mother; and claims refuge in Islam. There is a moral question here.

One would expect religious authorities to guide him in the path of righteousness before he is allowed to convert. He should be advised to exemplify Islamic virtues by displaying compassion and discharging his responsibility to his family before he can find a place in Islam.

The religious authorities contribute to the family break-up when they convert his children without the knowledge or consent of their mother. By so doing, they add to the suffering of the helpless mother. Is this fair?

In a recent case, it is reported that a husband abandoned his wife from Jelebu in February last year without providing for her welfare, and converted to Islam. In April this year, very quietly and without the knowledge of his wife, he converted both his children aged five and eight.

These children were not born Muslims. Is it right to convert minors who have no knowledge of Islam? Having been brought up in the Hindu faith, how do they reconcile their conversion to Islam?

115

It is wrong for Negeri Sembilan State Islamic Affairs Department director Datuk Johani Hassan to insist that “when one parent embraces Islam, the children can be automatically converted. … The law does not say that we need the consent of both parents before we can convert their children.”

The Federal Court might have erred when it ruled that the word “parent” in the Constitution meant a singular person and therefore a single parent could convert the child. But the phrase “consent of the parent” could not have meant that. If that was the intention of the framers of the Constitution, they would have expressed the intention as “consent of either parent”.

This contention must be correct. Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong had pointed out that “Article 160 of the Federal Constitution explains the rules of interpretation. … It is stated that words importing the masculine gender include females and words in the singular includes plural and vice versa.”

How this important point could have been overlooked is a mystery to me. According to Mr Leong, “Until 2002, the Bahasa Malaysia version, as published by the Government Printers, translated ‘parent’ as ‘ibu bapa’. However, in the 2002 edition of the translated Federal Constitution, the word ‘parent’ was translated as ‘ibu atau bapa’,” he added. For the word “ibu bapa” to be changed to “ibu atau bapa”would require an amendment to the Federal Constitution. But from what can be ascertained, there was no such amendment. The original intention of the Constitution must remain unaltered. That is crystal clear. The Malaysian Bar must move to have the Federal Court decision reviewed. Otherwise, a great injustice will be perpetuated.

In this unpleasant and worrying controversy, why is the Cabinet not speaking up especially when a decision was made in April 2009? It was then decided that children of parents where one of them opts to convert must continue to be raised in the common religion at the time of marriage.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department at that time, Datuk Seri Nazri, said it was decided in the Cabinet meeting that a spouse who has converted into Islam would also have to fulfil his or her marital responsibilities according to civil marriage laws.

116

“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape (marital) responsibilities. Conversion is not a ground for the automatic dissolution of a marriage,” he said at a press conference at Parliament building on Thursday (23 April 2009).

“The children should be brought up in the common religion. For the spouse who intends to convert into Islam, he or she would also have to come clean,” he said.

This is a fair and just Cabinet decision. Why is the Barisan Nasional government not enforcing this decision? Why is the Prime Minister allowing this unnecessary controversy to drag on? Our nation should not be embroiled in this issue.

Please speak up, Mr Prime Minister.

P Ramakrishnan Aliran executive committee member 20 June 2013

BN MPs told to vote with conscience on conversion bill
Malaysiakini – Tue, Jul 2, 2013

View Photo

BN MPs told to vote with conscience on conversion bill

117

A Penang Gerakan leader has urged MPs from the BN to search their hearts and vote with their conscience on the bill to amend the Federal Territories law relating to the conversion of minors to Islam, which he described as morally wrong. The party's state legal and human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh ( left ) expressed deep disappointment over the matter, saying the bill was proposed without prior consultation with BN component parties, including Gerakan. "This confirms the impression that only one party rules in the BN," Baljit told Malaysiakini, referring to Umno, whose members are Malay Muslims, as the prime mover of the amendment. "You cannot put the cart before the horse. Consultation with various sectors must be done before proposing the bill to amend the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Enactment in Parliament," he stressed. Baljit was responding to the tabling of the controversial bill, which appears set to proceed in Parliament. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom said all MPs would be briefed before the second reading of the bill. Legal action mulled The controversial amendment to the Federal Territories Islamic law, which seeks to give just one parent the right to convert a minor to Islam, has been criticised widely, even by Umno partners within the ruling coalition. Baljit said such a law, if allowed to proceed, could be abused as it was not fair to allow one parent to decide the faith of a child when both parents are responsible for the child's welfare. "Why not let the child decide when she or he comes of age?" he asked. Baljit backed his colleague, Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang ( right ), who threatened to file legal action against the government if Parliament passes the amendment. The amendment will made to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act to allow one parent to convert an underaged child to Islam.

118

Tan, in his declaration yesterday, said Article 12 (2) of the federal constitution should be defended at all times, especially since the proposed amendment "goes against the spirit of the federal constitution".

Nazri: Both parents’ consent a must for child conversion
BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID JULY 03, 2013UPDATED: JULY 03, 2013 04:12 PM

PETALING JAYA, July 3 — The minister who announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009 today spoke out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. “I stand by it (the ban on unilateral conversion). I have always stood by it,” Nazri, now tourism minister, told reporters in Parliament today.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri AzizThe former law minister also argued that the proposed amendment to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) contravenes the Federal Constitution, which he said clearly states that conversions of minors must have the consent of both parents. “The constitution must be read to be inclusive. It’s not exclusive especially in issues of religion. So we have to read the constitution to be inclusive meaning there cannot be unilateral conversion,” he added.

119

Despite the Cabinet ruling, Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam, was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended the proposed law, saying that the move was being done according to existing laws. But other Barisan Nasional leaders have spoken up against the proposed law, saying it would lead to more cases of complicated custodial tussles where only one parent was Muslim. On Saturday, MCA deputy publicity chief Loh Seng Kok urged for bipartisan resistance towards the law that he described as a trap for non-muslims. MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel went a step further and recommended that child conversions be banned entirely. The Cameron Highlands MP said the proposed changes to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 should be further amended to forbid any parent from arbitrarily converting his or her child. “(If) any child (is) below 18 years, a single parent cannot convert him or her. It will become a problem,” he said yesterday. Both the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ― the umbrella body of Malaysia’s non-Muslim creeds ― had said the Bill, which aims to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents, was “unconstitutional”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. When asked today if theproposed law expressly sought to counteract the Cabinet ruling from 2009, Nazri said: “You just wait for the Bill to be tabled.” - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/nazri-both-parents-consent-amust-for-child-conversion#sthash.DA6ydocH.dpuf

120

Published: Wednesday July 3, 2013 MYT 1:01:00 PM Updated: Wednesday July 3, 2013 MYT 1:40:27 PM

Nazri Aziz: Unfair for only one parent to determine child's religion By WONG PEK MEI

Nazri waves to reporters during the launch of KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Starpix by KEVIN TAN KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz disagrees with the proposed child conversion legislature, saying it was unfair to non-Muslims. He said it would not be fair for only one parent to determine a child's religion. "As a lawyer and a Muslim, I am not comfortable with the situation," he told reporters here on Wednesday. He said as a Muslim and a leader of the country, "it is our responsibility to protect the minority and ensure their rights are protected." "I think what's happening today is postponing a bigger problem," he said. He was commenting on the proposed amendment to Section 107(B) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to allow just one parent to convert children to Islam. Among others, the Bill allows a person below the age of 18 to convert into Islam if one parent or guardian consents to the conversion.

121

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had assured that all parties would be consulted before making any decision on the Bill. Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee said unless it is withdrawn, the Bill was expected to be tabled for second and third reading before the current meeting ends on July 18.

New bill not fair to non-Muslims, says Nazri Aziz
BY MD IZWAN JULY 03, 2013 tmi Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz stands by his 2009 decision that the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam should not be allowed. He said the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill was unfair to non-Muslims and stressed that the consent of both parents is needed to convert minors. This raises the question if proper consultations were carried out in Cabinet before the Bill was tabled. "As a lawyer and a Muslim, I am not comfortable with this situation," said the Tourism Minister on the Bill which was tabled in Parliament last week. "To me, it is not fair to say that only one parent can determine the child's religion even though the parent had converted to Islam." Nazri was the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in 2009 when the government decided then that unilateral conversions should not be allowed. "Personally I want this reviewed. As a leader I feel responsible to provide protection to the minority, to ensure their rights are protected," he said. Nazri said if the Bill became law it would throw up problems in future. "The problem will start when the minor becomes an adult at 18 and decides to change religion. If he is Muslim, then it will be apostasy which is not allowed in Islam," he said. Yesterday Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman voiced his opposition to unilateral child conversions to Islam saying it was a big decision which needed the consent of both parents. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin proposed the Bill in Parliament which was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat. He said that it was done in accordance with existing laws and that the scope had changed. DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang rubbished this, adding that opposition leaders will be holding dialogues and meetings with affected groups on the impact of such an unconstitutional provision in the Bill. Among other concerns raised by non-Muslim religious groups is whether the proposed Bill expands the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts in Malaysia beyond what is provided for in the Federal Constitution.

122

Parent(s) at the heart of dispute over child’s religion
BY RI TA JONG J UNE 28, 2013

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 bill in question is the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. Two groups that have raised major concerns are the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and the Bar Council. The proposed bill would affect non-Muslims and they also see it as a turnabout of sorts. They point out that just four years ago, then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. He said this in response to high-profile cases of children being converted to Islam while one parent objected. The religious group said in a statement to the media: "It appears that the Cabinet's promise and undertaking on this issue was not sincere." It added: "If 'parent' is interpreted to mean 'single parent', it will be against the Federal Constitution." The Bar Council too raised a similar point. In a statement, it said: "Any legislation that is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution that provides that the consent of only one parent is sufficient for the conversion of a minor to any religion would therefore be unconstitutional." Bar Council president Christopher Leong urged the government to bring the new law into line with the Federal Constitution. Leong noted that the under the Constitution, when both parents are alive, both must decide on the conversion of their child who is a minor. Only when it is just one parent that is alive, can one parent decide on such a conversion.

123

The religious group went further than the Bar Council and called for the bill – which lets the Syariah High Court decide whether a person is a Muslim – to be withdrawn until it has been thoroughly debated by all stakeholders. It said: “Bulldozing through this bill is unacceptable and would be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy through other legal channels locally and internationally." MCCBCHST’S FULL STATEMENT IS AS FOLLOWS: 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 nonconverting 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. We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you. Absurd and against the spirit & letter of the Federal Constitution

124

We must warn that if "Parent" in Article 12(a) is to be interpreted to mean "single" parent", it will go against the spirit and letter of Article 4 of the Federal Constitution - the Supreme Law of the land. lf this lnterpretation is advanced, then there is nothing to stop the other single parent to convert back the child to the Original religion. No religious law can over-ride the constitution. This would produce an absurd result and therefore this could not be meaning intended. Reliance on the case of SUBASHINI (2008), may not be in order as the case appears to be wrongly decided due to the following:i) The Court did not apply the Statutory Interpretation clause. Art. 160(1) (Eleventh Schedule) under which "words importing the masculine gender include female" and "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular. ii) The guardianship of Infants Act, 1961 which provides for equality of parental rights. iii) lf single "parent" can convert, then it would lead to an absurd result, as the nonconverting spouse can similarly by virtue of being a single parent convert back her child to the original faith. 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. - June 28, 2013. - MCCBCHST

Sunday, 30 June 2013 14:17

M'sian Sikhs join call to stop new Islamic Bill allowing unilateral conversion of kids by one parent

125

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. The call comes following both MCA and MIC expressing shock over the bill and calling it to be withdrawn while the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) had voiced similar concerns. Critics of single-parent conversion have raised concerns that a spouse could deliberately convert to Islam, together with his or her minor child, in order to win custody of the child in the syariah court. They argue that the syariah court would naturally recognise and favour the Muslim convert parent, leaving the other non-Muslim parent helpless in trying to win custody of the child.

Read more: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=121441:msiansikhs-join-call-to-stop-new-islamic-bill-allowing-unilateral-conversion-of-kids-by-oneparent&Itemid=2#.UdO3kTssXfs#ixzz2XxRiwxFH

126

Respecting our children’s freedom- Amar Singh
J ULY 02, 2013

I want to thank every media or editor that has spoken up against the proposal by our government to introduce a law allowing one parent to change their children’s religion. It shows the courage of that media/editor and expresses the opinion of the majority of Malaysians. This attempt by the government to introduce such a law is a violation of the basic human rights of any individual and shows how little they respect the fundamental freedoms of our children. The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been available since 1989 and signed by our Malaysian Prime Minister in December 1994. The UNCRC outlines the basic rights that should be accorded to any child. The fact that Malaysia is signatory underlines that the government of Malaysia is committed to uphold these fundamental rights. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children. Article 3 of the UNCRC clearly states that the best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect children. And that all adults, including the governing body of the country, should do what is best for children. This clearly includes policies and laws. Article 14 speaks about the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. To quote “Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should help guide their children in these matters. The Convention respects the rights and duties of parents in providing religious and moral guidance to their children. Religious groups around the world have expressed support for the Convention, which indicates that it in no way prevents parents from bringing their children up within a religious tradition. At the same time, the Convention recognises that as children mature and are able to form their own views, some may question certain religious practices or cultural traditions. The Convention supports children's right to examine their beliefs, but it also states that their right to express their beliefs implies respect for the rights and freedoms of others.” This article acknowledges that it is our inherent right to choose what we want to believe in and this is in line with all religions of the world. No religion practises compulsion, only its misguided followers do so. Every human being, child or adult must be given the freedom to choose what they want

127

to believe in. To remove this is a breach of our fundamental freedoms. That we have laws prohibiting adults to choose their faith is unbelievable. To impose this on children without their choice is unthinkable. No child, parent or professional of any religious persuasion I have spoken to in the past few days have disagreed with this. It is unthinkable that anyone can choose my job, marriage partner or even my next meal without my permission. But here we are, allowing one parent to make a decision on our most important choice in life. The truth is that neither parent should choose, the individual should do so when they are mature enough and also be allowed to change their choice later in life. Article 4 of the UNCRC speaks of the responsibility of the government to take ALL available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Governments are obligated to help families protect children’s rights and create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential. If the government introduces this law, it will violate the heart of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child. It will announce to the whole world that Malaysians are willing to trample on the basic rights of every child in the country. It will clearly show we do not respect our children as thinking individuals and are prepared to treat them as objects. This law is NOT in the best interests of children, which must be our primary concern. Article 12 & 13 of the UNCRC speak about respecting the views of children when making decisions that affect them and as well as ensuring they have freedom of expression. I ask all Malaysians who respect children to uphold their fundamental freedoms. In our society where those in authority seldom listen to or consult children, let us collectively be their voice to oppose this injustice. I appeal to all Malaysians elected to public office to defeat this unjust legislation and place the interests and rights of our children at its rightful place.

*Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS is a Senior Consultant Community Paediatrician and reads The Malaysian Insider.

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 09:52

Fierce debate on conversion of minors to Islam

128

Even as debate raged today on the conversion of minors to Islam with a senior MIC leader claiming that the Federal Court had erred on the interpretation of the word "parent', opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim insisted that Islam required a mother to agree to the change of religion. The morning began with MIC deputy president Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam questioning the High Court's understanding of the word "parent" in Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution, which reads that "the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian." He went on to underline the fact that MIC could not agree with the Islamic enactment of federal law as reflected in the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. Shortly after, the opposition leader was quoted by Malaysiakini as telling reporters at Parliament that there was a specific case where Prophet Muhammad sent a child back to his mother because the mother did not convert with the father to Islam. Anwar said the issue was being studied thoroughly by Pakatan Rakyat, with ongoing discussions between him, PAS president Datuk Hadi Awang and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. Subramaniam, elaborating on MIC's stand on the matter, which has raised the hackles of nonMuslims, said the controversy had its beginnings in the 2003 case of Shamala Sathiyaseelan versus Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah, in which the High Court ruled that only the consent of one parent is required in the conversion to Islam of a person below 18. He said the court had interpreted the term "parent" in Article 12(4) to mean only the father. "Because of (this) one case, everyone has come to say that this is the law. The cabinet is very concerned with how to handle this and overcome the problem," he said, adding that Barisan Nasional is seeking the advice of the Attorney-General's Chambers. "This is an ongoing issue that needs to be undone and an action plan will be formed soon," he added. Anwar, meanwhile, said PR is expected to declare its stand on the controversial bill as soon as next week. He said the leadership is in the midst of studying the bill thoroughly before giving a public response on the issue.

129

Anwar, who is also Permatang Pauh MP, said he will be meeting representatives from nongovernmental organisations, including former Bar Council president Datuk S. Ambiga, to discuss the bill. "We (Pakatan) will decide by next week or so because we still have time (to go through the Bill)," he said. Various groups have expressed their objections to the bill, which allows only one parent to convert children to Islam. Bar Council Human Rights Committee chairman Andrew Khoo had said that laws allowing a mother or a father to convert the religion of a child without the consent of the other spouse are unconstitutional and should be repealed. Bar Council president Christopher Leong said a decision on the religion of a child should be made by both parents – as both are responsible for a child. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said the proposed bill is in accordance with the Federal Constitution and a Federal Court judgment (the 2003 case). - theSundaily

Read more: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=123021:fiercedebate-on-conversion-of-minors-to-islam&Itemid=2#.UdO5pDssXfs#ixzz2XxTjX4uf

‘Mum's consent a must for child to be converted'

View Photo
'Mum's consent a must for child to be converted'

The Islamic position on child conversion is that a child can only be converted with the consent of the mother, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said today.

130

Speaking to reporters in the lobby of Parliament House, Anwar said the Pakatan Rakyat parties would continue to discuss the move to amend the Islamic law on the conversion of minors with one another, before taking an official stand. He was referring to the tabling of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 in Parliament last week, which will allow only one parent's consent, or that of the guardian, to convert a minor to Islam. "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 cochairperson 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.

Proposed M'sian law risky to kids' identity due to ease of conversion, warns group
By Shaila Koshy in Kuala Lumpur/The Star | Asia News Network – Sun, Jun 30, 2013

Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - 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

131

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. He was referring to Section 107 (the old Section 95) in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which relates to the conversion of minors. This provision became controversial in 1993 - although the English version states a nonMuslim below 18 years of age may convert to Islam if "his parent or guardian consents to his conversion", the Malay version of Section 95 amended "ibubapa (parents)" to "ibu atau bapa (mother or father)". Sisters In Islam (SIS) also joins the Bar Council and others, who have asked why the Government had not amended the "controversial provision, which allows for unilateral conversions" since it is tabling an entirely new Bill. The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, if passed by both Houses of Parliament next month, will repeal the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993. "Given the many experiences of gross injustice faced by Malaysians - both Muslim and nonMuslim - in such cases, Section 107(b) should have been amended," said SIS programme manager Suri Kempe. "It is a loophole which allows for the perpetration of injustice and leads to a situation that tears families apart." She added that, on the whole, it was difficult to comment on the Bill because so little time had been given to parliamentarians and civil society to scrutinise it. "In a vibrant democracy, the practice of railroading bills without sufficient discussion, especially one that has repercussions on the lives of millions of Malaysians, cannot be accepted."

132

Selangor PAS against unilateral child conversions to Islam
BY BOO SU-LYN JULY 02, 2013

SHAH ALAM, July 2 — Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman (picture) today spoke out against a controversial proposed law on unilateral child conversions to Islam, saying such a “big” decision needed the consent of both parents. Rani’s remarks come even as Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs declined to comment today on the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, saying that they needed time to study it first. “Converting in religion is a big issue, not a small issue,” Rani told The Malay Mail Online at the sidelines of the Selangor state legislative assembly sitting here today. “So, should get the consent of both,” said the assemblyman from the Islamist party. The Meru assemblyman also stressed that there was no compulsion in Islam. “If one parent converts and you want that child (to convert), give him information, but you cannot force,” said Rani. PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said earlier today that a PR joint committee has been formed to study the law that was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday. The proposed amendment contained in section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill has raised concerns among non-Muslim groups that more cases of unilateral child conversions to Islam may occur if the law is passed. Several non-Muslim government leaders have openly condemned the Bill as unconstitutional and called on both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PR MPs to oppose it.

133

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, defended the Bill yesterday, arguing that the proposed amendment was done according to existing laws. But the Umno deputy president noted that the government will take into consideration all views given on the matter and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, will be issuing a statement on the controversy soon. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam suggested earlier today that a translation error was at the centre of the religious row. Dr Subramaniam reportedly said that the Malay version of section 107(b), which states the conversion of a minor requires the consent of a “parent or guardian”, was not in line with the English version. The MIC deputy president noted that the Malay version translates the word “parent” to “ibu atau bapa” (“mother or father”). Dr Subramaniam, who is the Segamat MP, also said he did not think that the Bill would be presented for voting in Parliament. The Bar Council pointed out the translation error in a statement last week after the country’s largest non-Muslim faith group censured the proposed law. Both the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ― the umbrella body of Malaysia’s non-Muslim creeds ― had said the Bill, which aims to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents, was “unconstitutional”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country. But cases since then, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/selangor-pas-againstunilateral-child-conversions-to-islam#sthash.xqoWoeYe.dpuf

134

Selangor PAS commissioner equates conversion to buying a car and not choosing a meal
The Malaysian Insider – 17 hours ago

By Rita Jong Conversion to Islam is not like choosing a meal according to Selangor PAS Commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman. Dr Abd Rani said a parent who converted his child after his or her conversion to Islam should be mindful of this. “This is not like choosing a meal, but more like buying a car. It has to be discussed first and agreed by both the parents. “We cannot force anyone to convert. And if the parents have converted to Islam, they have to expose their children to the teachings of Islam first,” he said when commenting on the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. Dr Abd Rani said both parents and not ‘a parent’ as stated in the proposed law, which was tabled last week, must decide on any conversion to Islam. “It would not be good for the child if a parent is allowed to do the conversion, which in most cases, are done during a marriage dispute,” said Dr Abd Rani when met at the Selangor assembly meeting today. The Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 has triggered a public debate with many parties, especially non-Muslim groups, opposing to the proposed law saying it was against the Federal Constitution. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, had defended the Bill saying that the proposed amendments were done according to existing laws. – July 2, 2013.

June 30, 2013

Bishop says bill on minors’ conversion a litmus test
135

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 6:41 AM Terence Netto 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.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’ provision of the Federal Constitution”. 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. Commitment to gender equality “What would come as a surprise is the way the vote would go in Parliament because there are legislators in the House who have signed on to gender equality in their election manifestoes,” he reminded. “The proposed amendment clearly violates this commitment to gender equality so that the way those signatories vote on this bill would be a test of whether they will match deed to word. Failure to do so would expose them for the imposters they are,” warned the bishop.

136

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. Bishop Paul Tan warned that the vote on the bill will be a litmus test of the fidelity to the Federal Constitution of legislators elected to Malaysia’s 13th Parliament. “I fully support the Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism and the Christian Federation of Malaysian in their opposition to this bill,” he said.
July 3, 2013

DPM raises both expectation and fear, says bishop
Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM Terence Netto Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing said he viewed the latest statement by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on a controversial amendment to a law on religious conversion of minors with “equal parts of expectation and trepidation.” “On the one hand, the DPM says the government is taking into account all views and, on the other hand, he says that amendments to the bill on the conversion of minors accords with a Federal Court ruling and with the equality of persons’ provision in the constitution,” said the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese. Bishop Paul Tan (left) said he found Muhyiddin’s disclosure that the proposed amendments to the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 had been thoroughly discussed in the cabinet to be “strange because of the objections to the amendments now emanating from BN component parties.” “If the government had been, as the DPM has assured, taking into account all views expressed by relevant parties, it could not have tabled the amendments for its first reading

137

early last week in Parliament, given the tenor of the objections to it and the variety of the quarters from which they emanate,” asserted the prelate. “Nevertheless, I propose to take the DPM at his earnest word and look with expectation to his assurance that the views presently expressed by a variety of quarters will be taken into consideration before Parliament gets to grip on the proposed amendments,” said the bishop. Muhyiddin revealed that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom, would make “relevant announcements” on the bill, announcements” on the bill, as if to suggest that the announcements would be of an emollient nature. But later yesterday, when Jamil himself addressed the issue, in remarks made at the end of a function at the Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim), he alternated between placation of the range of objections to the bill and indication that the amendments would proceed, after a briefing for all MPs, to its second reading.

Stay Islam Administration Bill, much to amend
Honey Tan Lay Ean 5:05PM Jul 2, 2013

The government has just tabled the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 (the Bill). It is interesting to note that the government did not table a bill to only amend or add in new sections to the existing Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (the Act). This Bill, when passed, will totally replace the Act. This means that all clauses of the Bill should and must be looked at to see if it is fair to all sections of Malaysian society: not just among Muslims, between Muslims and non-Muslims, but also between parents and their children. There are many worrying clauses in the Bill, but I will only address Clause 107 (b) which provides that one parent or guardian of a non-Muslim child may convert her. Do not be thrown off by people who say that Clause 107 (b) was already there as Section 95 of the Act - so what's the fuss now? The answer is this: we must fuss now because the Bill is tabled with all clauses up for debate so any clause may be amended or withdrawn. In 1993 when the Act was passed, we were not vigilant. Maybe we thought it was a matter for Muslims, and it will not affect people of other faiths. We know better now after the cases of Shamala, Indira Gandhi and Subashini. Those women and their husbands were Hindus when they were married, and they married under civil law.

138

Suddenly, their husbands chose to convert to Islam and converted their children without their knowledge or consent. State laws with similar provisions to Clause 107 (b) enabled them to do so. It is important to note that under the Guardianship of Infants Act which applies to non-Muslims, both parents are equal guardians of their children and have equal parental rights. However, under Syariah laws in Malaysia, fathers are the guardians of minor children - not the mothers. By converting to Islam and converting their minor children to Islam, S Shamala, Indira Gandhi and R Subashini's husbands effectively took away those women's guardianship of their children. Many also think that provisions in state laws similar to Clause 107 (b) of the Bill have been confirmed by the Federal Court decision in the Subashini case. Legal opinions differ on this. What is clear is this: in Subashini's case, the Federal Court was not asked to decide whether conversion by one parent of his minor child to the religion of Islam was constitutional. The relevant questions posed to the Federal Court in Subashini's case were these: Question 1: "Whether in an application for an interim injunction a court can make a final determination on issues of law, in particular, where it refers to a question of jurisdiction, as opposed to a consideration of only the existence of a serious issue of law to be determined?" and Question 2: "If the answer to question number 1 is in the affirmative, then: "[...] Question 2.4: Is it an abuse of process for a spouse of the Law Reform to unilaterally convert the religion of a minor child of the Law Reform Marriage without the consent of the other parent?" So whatever the Federal Court said in Subashini's case about one parent being able to convert a child is said in passing (obiter dictum) as it did not relate to the questions posed to it. All that is said in passing was do not bind other judges, and they do not have to follow it. The net result of Subashini's case is that it is not good authority to say that Syariah law provisions such as Clause 107 (b) of the Bill are constitutional. Leaving aside all the issues of law, and looking at it from a social justice viewpoint, is this the sort of law we want in Malaysia? The sort of law that allows a parent to ride roughshod over the wishes of the other parent, and without even waiting for their child to attain the age of majority of 18 years to make up her own mind? The government repeatedly says that national unity is key to our progress and development. In April 2009, the executive arm of the government (i.e., the cabinet) announced that children should be allowed to remain in the common religion of their parents at the time their parents married.

139

So once again, we can see that the government did not "kotakan kata": they have failed to keep to their word. Let us lobby our members of Parliament - they form the legislative arm of government. Let us write, email, text, Facebook and Twitter them. Tell them that they cannot vote for the Bill without amendments being made, and wider consultation with stakeholders from all over Malaysia. To all our MPs - BN and Pakatan Rakyat alike, I urge you to be brave! Do not vote to pass the Bill as it stands. You must do the right thing, especially when the executive has failed us.

Pakatan mum on child conversion law, says needs further scrutiny
BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID JULY 02, 2013UPDATED: JULY 02, 2013 02:03 PM

Anwar said the coalition will only issue a statement on the matter some time next week. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Pakatan Rakyat leaders today declined to weigh in on controversial law on child conversions to Islam, saying they needed time to study the matter first. Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the coalition will only issue a statement on the matter sometime next week, while his daughter and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah revealed that a joint committee had been set up to study the law. “We are looking at the Bill thoroughly and I have had a initial discussion with (PAS president) Datuk Seri Hadi Awang and also (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng to get some understanding before we give a public response,” he told reporters in Parliament here.

140

“We have already set up a Pakatan committee to look into this and we will meet soon,” Nurul told pressmen in a separate press conference earlier. The proposed amendment contained in section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 has led to concerns by Malaysia’s religious minorities that more cases of unilateral child conversions to Islam may result. Several non-Muslim government leaders have openly condemned the Bill as unconstitutional and called on lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to oppose the law which was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has defended the Bill, however, arguing the proposed amendment was done according to existing laws. But the Umno deputy president noted that the government will take into consideration all views given on the matter and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, will be issuing a statement on the controversy soon. Earlier today, Muhyiddin’s Cabinet colleague Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam suggested that a translation error was at the heart of the growing row. The health minister was reported to have said the Malay version of section 107(b), which states the conversion of a minor requires the consent of a “parent or guardian”, was not in line with the English version. However, he said the Malay version translates the word “parent” to “ibu atau bapa” (“mother or father”). “The Bill is a totally new Bill. I think this part was not seen by them,” the Segamat MP was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini news portal in a news conference here, referring to his colleagues in the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. Dr Subramaniam, who is also deputy president of MIC, added that he did not think the Bill would be presented for voting. “I don’t think it will reach that stage,” he said when asked if the MIC would vote against the Bill in the Dewan Rakyat. The Bar Council had pointed out the translation error in a statement last week, on the heels of an uproar from the country’s largest non-Muslim faith group over the proposed law. Both the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ― the umbrella body of Malaysia’s non-Muslim creeds ― had said the Bill, which aims to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of eight to mean either instead of both parents, was “unconstitutional”.

141

Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversion have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which does not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among Muslim-dominated Malaysia’s religious minorities. But cases since, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pakatan-mum-on-childconversion-law-says-needs-further-scrutiny#sthash.9wO6jHXc.dpuf

'Conversion' bill: Pakatan adopts 'wait-and-see' stand
First Published: 7:53pm, Jul 04, 2013 Last Updated: 7:53pm, Jul 04, 2013 by Pathma Subramaniam KUALA LUMPUR (July 4): Pakatan Rakyat will reserve its view on the controversy surrounding a new Bill related to unilateral conversion of minors seeing that even Putrajaya is at odds with it. Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim noted that while the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 2013 Bill was tabled for first reading last week, even BN leaders, including those in the cabinet, are opposed to it. "This clearly shows that they didn't think this through and debate it thoroughly at the cabinet level," said Anwar at a press conference at the Parliament lobby. "Every bill is supposed to be tabled in the cabinet and if there are objections, it has to be discussed again at the next meeting or amended," he said. "One component party leader says we can't accept it now and asks to postpone. Another says he objects to it," he pointed out. Anwar, who was a former deputy prime minister, said that this was not the practice then. "I'm not sure if it was not discussed or simply bulldozed." Yesterday, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz spoke against the Bill that paves the way for unilateral conversion of children under the age of 18. Nazri, who was previously the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Parliament and law, has been a staunch opponent to the issue of unilateral conversion. Component parties, particularly the MIC, had also raised concerns on Clause 107 in the Bill which allows one parent to decide on the conversion of his or her child.

142

"They must explain why was this approved in the cabinet in the first place and why were they silent," demanded Anwar. Anwar said the Pakatan Rakyat leadership believes that all quarters must be advised on the Bill and that no one religious value must be imposed on those of other faith. "We don't want to discuss now. We don't know if they are going to amend or table. So we decided to wait it out," he said. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/conversion-bill-pakatan-adopts-wait-and-seestand#ixzz2Y5CD3iVc

MIC wants religious conversion for minors banned entirely
JULY 02, 2013

MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said that religious conversion for those under 18 years should be banned entirely. – AFP pic PETALING JAYA, July 2 – Religious conversion for those under 18 years should be banned entirely, MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said today as he joined the bipartisan show of disapproval against the new law permitting unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. The Cameron Highlands MP said the proposed changes to Section 107(b) of the Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 should be further amended to forbid any parent from arbitrarily converting his or her child. “(If) any child (is) below 18 years, a single parent cannot convert him or her. It will become a problem.

143

“We will suggest that we need a slight amendment, that there should be no conversion for those under 18 years. No problem for those above 18 years,” he was quoted in news portal Malaysiakini as saying at a press conference today. The controversial amendment which was tabled last Wednesday has since invited heavy criticism from all quarters, including those in the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and civil society. PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said earlier today that a PR joint committee has been formed to study the law that was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday. Several non-Muslim government leaders have also openly condemned the Bill as unconstitutional and called on both BN and PR MPs to oppose it. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, defended the Bill yesterday, arguing that the proposed amendment was done according to existing laws. But the Umno deputy president noted that the government will take into consideration all views given on the matter and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, will be issuing a statement on the controversy soon. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam suggested earlier today that a translation error was at the centre of the religious row. Dr Subramaniam reportedly said that the Malay version of section 107(b), which states the conversion of a minor requires the consent of a “parent or guardian”, was not in line with the English version. The MIC deputy president noted that the Malay version translates the word “parent” to “ibu atau bapa” (“mother or father”). Dr Subramaniam, who is the Segamat MP, also said he did not think that the Bill would be presented for voting in Parliament. The Bar Council pointed out the translation error in a statement last week after the country’s largest non-Muslim faith group censured the proposed law. Both the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ― the umbrella body of Malaysia’s nonMuslim creeds ― had said the Bill, which aims to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents, was “unconstitutional”. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country.

144

It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country. But cases since then, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling.

Vote against 'conversion' Bill, MCA MPs told
Saturday, 29 June 2013 Super Admin

M. Indira Gandhi's children converted to Islam by her husband without her permission (fz.com) - An MCA leader has called on the party's MPs to vote against the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill in the Dewan Rakyat because of the inclusion of a controversial provision on conversion. The provision allows a child to be converted to Islam with the consent of only one parent. "I implore on all our seven MCA MPs to vote against this Bill," said MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok. "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 Section 107(b)," Loh said in a statement today. He added that he may raise this issue at the central committee "to reaffirm our party's official stand against unilateral conversion of minor children by one parent". The Bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat for its first reading on Wednesday.

145

Loh, who is also MCA deputy publicity chief, said Section 107(b) appears to undermine Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution which reads that "the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian". He noted that the need for both parents' consent is reinforced in Article 160(1) of the 11th Schedule which says that "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular". Also, Article 8 states that "there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion…". Further Article 12(4) also provides that for the purpose of Clause (3), the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian.' "MCA re-emphasises that if a religion of a minor child is disputed, the minor's faith remains as status quo at the time of his birth until he reaches the age of maturity which is 18 years," said Loh. "On a deeper realm, besides running ultra vires the Federal Constitution, Section 107(b) in the Bahasa Malaysia version calling for 'ibu atau bapa or penjaga' appears designed to undermine the Federal Constitution and trap non-Muslims into conversion issues," he added. Loh noted that in 2009, the Cabinet had decided that if either spouse were to convert to Islam, the children should follow the faith that the parents had agreed on at the time of marriage, or implied by their common religion. "I implore on the lawmakers to mandate this decision into a law be it in the Federal Constitution, Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Child Act 2001, Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 (revised 1988). "Separate incidents have shown that as the Cabinet decision is not etched in law, one parent has rushed his/her minor child(ren) to religious authorities who duly converted them without informing the spouse - this going in direct conflict against the Cabinet decision," he added

MALAYSIAKINI YOURSAY 'Being in BN does not mean you support unjust laws. It's time for all righteous MPs to make a stand.' MCAleadertellspartyMPstovoteagainstconversionbill Dont Just Talk: Do what is right, MCA, and break ranks with Umno if you must. BN is just a showpiece, with big brother Umno calling the shots. If MCA, MIC and Gerakan continue with their past practice of remaining quiet relating to forced conversion of minors to Islam, the parties deserved to be 'kubur' (buried) by their communities. Malaysiawatch4.blogspot: Yes, being in BN does not mean you support unjust laws. It's time for all righteous MPs to make a stand. Swipenter: It is blatant that some are making use of religion to take custody of the children when their marriage fails, and now aided by some Muslim politicians who are taking advantage of this to further their goals and to erode the rights of non-Muslim parents.

7

146

Now is the time for MPs to vote with their conscience rather than along partisan lines as the proposed bill is clearly one-sided, unjust and against the constitution. Kamikasi: Sadly, the authorities does not respect these words of wisdom: Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. Remember the episodeofNatrah (Maria Hertogh), the Dutch girl who was reunited with her biological parent? Malaysians, especially Umno members, armed themselves to the teeth to condemn the mother, fearing Natrah would reconvert to another religion. I think we should all learn from this. The sin lies with the party that converts a minor by force. I believe any right-thinking person will understand the pain of a mother. What happens when the child becomes an adult and turn to his/her religion of birth? Are you going to condemn him/her? Can't we be civilise and respect the rights of a child or adult in his or her chosen spiritual path. DontPlayGod: The MPs, who have just been sworn in, promised to uphold the constitution. But then the majority of them are Muslims, and Malaysia is heading towards the complete Islamisation of the country. This is only one of the many steps taken in that direction. Umno has turned the constitution upside down for decades. Joe Lee: No, no, no, MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok, you are supposed to be pro-BN, regardless of how bad it is. You should continue as before. We want MCA to reach its logical destination - final death, with no resurrection. Anonymous$&@?: See? Better that MCA is not in the cabinet, at least they are seen doing something for the common good, rather than being a lap dog for Umno. Apapunboleh: Hasn't the MCA realised that it has been in bed with the Satan all these years?

Cabinet urged to wait on new conversion law
Kamaapo: This is the time Pakatan Rakyat Muslim MPs, especially from PAS, to show what the true teachings of Islam. Will they respect the civil and human rights of the minorities in this country? Or will they be just callously oblivious to it like Umno, devoid of any basic empathy for others just because they wield brute power? WhatIwant: The Muslim holy month is approaching and this issue should not be brought up now. I believe it's a time to reflect and strengthen our religious values. Hplooi: Any party or individual who is part of this government is contributing to the slow demise of this nation as a multi-racial, multi-cultural, secular and representative democracy.

147

OMG!!: Upko, MCA, MIC don't just talk. Pull out from BN and there will not be any more of this bullying and insensitivity to other races and religions. For too long you have been rendering credence and legitimacy to this evil regime. Senior: With a party whip; who in BN will dare to vote against it? Hearty Malaysian: This is a political move by Umno to destroy Pakatan, hoping PAS will support the bill in the name of Islam. The way the bill is brought forward right after GE13 is to punish the non-Muslims for backing Pakatan, and telling MCA, MIC and Hindraf and the rest of non-Muslim BN components to toe the line. My4Hope: Pakatan, especially PAS, please act in a just and constitutional way. There are lines can't be crossed, and this is one of them.

Conversion bill anti-national reconciliation, says MCA
Holden: This is a purely political move. Umno needs to consolidate its voter base. Does anyone believe that faith has anything to do with this? Jbsuara: How many parent/s maketh a child? Two, or more if you include grandparents. It doesn't make any sense that only one parent can make this solemn and life-changing decision. Excluding the other parent is not fair. Odin: MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu, your party has been subservient, sycophantic, servile to Umno Baru for many years. Whose fault is it? Aries46: So Deputy Minister P Waythamoorthy, happy now? This is why you were calling out to the Indians to give two-thirds majority to the Umno government? If this bill legalising the unilateral secret conversion of non-Muslim minors by one parent is passed, you in particular among all the other traitors to the race and religion, will bear the highest scorn and despise from the Indian community.

June 15, 2013

Will non-Muslim parents get justice, interfaith panel asks Putrajaya
Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM

148

Nazri previously announced a federal ban on ban the automatic conversion of minors to Islam. Malaysia’s leading non-Muslim interfaith council demanded today the federal government answer if it had reversed its 2009 stand on child conversions to Islam, in the wake of a recent case in Negri Sembilan that may reignite the simmering religious tensions within the country. The latest case of S. Deepa, a 29-year-old Hindu mother from Jelebu who learnt in April her estranged husband had unilaterally converted their two underage children to Islam after he embraced the country’s main religion over a year ago, had moved the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) to censure the authorities for what it perceived to be injustice towards non-Muslims. “Was the Cabinet decision in April 2009 a flash in the pan to pacify non-Muslim Malaysians because of the numerous cases of such gross injustice?” the MCCBCHST asked in a statement signed by the leaders representing five of the country’s six main faiths. In April 2009, Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced the government will ban the automatic conversion of minors to Islam, in a bid to quell unease among religious minorities in mainly Muslim Malaysia. Then the de facto law minister, he had said minors were to be bound by the common religion of their parents while they were married even if one parent later becomes a Muslim “We have to resolve this once and for all. I don’t think we should be deciding on a piecemeal basis every time a conversion issue crops up,” Nazri said in a news conference then. “We have decided on a long-term solution because we expect more cases will occur, being a multiracial country.” Islam is the religion of over 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million people and its followers are bound by Syariah as well as civil laws that apply to non-Muslims.

149

In its statement today, the MCCBCHST demanded Putrajaya answer if the Cabinet decision ― announced shortly after Datuk Seri Najib Razak replaced Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime mimister ― carried any weight at all, or if civil servants were given free rein to enforce the law as they saw fit. The MCCBCHST did not explain its question but it appears to follow on the heels of the remark by Negri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Director Datuk Johani Hassan, who reportedly said only one parent’s consent was needed to convert a child to Islam. “The law does not say that we need the consent of both parents before we can convert their children. “When one parent embraces Islam, the children can be automatically converted,” he was quoted as saying by The Star Online in its June 9 news report. MCCBCHST also demanded to know if conversion cases would be adjudged fairly by the civil courts, which it says is the proper platform to decide on such issues as nonMuslims have no legal standing in Syariah courts, which is where Islamic authorities have persistently argued for the matters to be heard. The council reminded the authorities that the country’s highest judicial level, the Federal Court, had been seen to have abdicated its responsibility in addressing the issue when it had the chance to do so in 2010, when another Hindu mother, S. Shamala, had challenged her estranged Hindu-turned-Muslim husband’s conversion of their two young children. A five-man panel led by the then-Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi had unanimously dismissed Shamala’s bid to raise her two children in the religion they grew up with, on the grounds that the mother was not in the country.

11

150

The 5-0 ruling effectively dealt a hard blow to the battle to end one-sided religious conversions, which has caused a deep rift in this multicultural and secular nation but where Islam is recognised as the official creed. MCCBCHST also asked if the Islamic authorities would respect the decisions of the civil courts and if the police would enforce such rulings in favour of the religious minorities.

“Will the non Muslim parent get justice?” the religious leaders asked.

False theology and strategy
12:13PM Jul 2, 2013 Kj John Can the attorney-general (AG) propose to paint “our God-provided air into green, or with any other colour when he so chooses to?” This column therefore contains my thoughts and reactions to the new bill to be tabled by the government in Parliament. With that intent, I would like to declare that the AG is the chief culprit of the so-called ‘design flaw’ in the current proposal to “change Islamic Administration in the Federal Territory”. And consequentially, I deplore the bill as not only false theology but also with very poor in strategic intent. Let me explain. False theology The federal constitution declares of itself that it is the supreme law of this nation-state; that we call Malaysia. Now, does this word, “supreme” have an ambiguous meaning? Does not supreme mean exclusive jurisdiction of the federal constitution upon this nation? How then can, the AG’s Office or AGC, design and develop a bill that undermines this very provision, other than by pure intentions and clear motive to mislead or deceive? I am sorry but as a former public servant, I know the basis of laws of the federation and the limits to which public servants can redefine these laws or by-laws to run smack against the constitution. I remember drafting the Matrade and the SME Development Corporation Bills, when I was with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti). While the Miti officers were responsible for the contents of the legal intent for the areas of our jurisdiction related to industry development, ts consistency with the constitution and the other laws of the federation, were the explicit responsibilities of the AGC. So, my question to the AG: why is this inconsistency with the constitution of the federation now allowed? And, why is the deputy prime minister (DPM) using current court misjudgements as his argument; when the constitution is being violated? Is Umno above the constitution? Are we allowing a new false theology about the nature of our sovereign nation-state? Do we not know the real meaning of our Rukunegara when it states that we believe in God. Yes, while we believe in “selectively digging up the Allah issue” and creating a furore over it, we do not have any qualms about abusing the federal constitution which defines itself as supreme? Neither is this the first time the AGC has done so? The last time was when the AGC drafted and declared by mere fiat of human intervention that in

Malaysia, our Merdeka-driven federation of three states into Malaysia. Therein, the two of the Borneo states which do not regard Islam as the “religion of their state” was forced to do the same. I am talking about Article 121 (1A). Now, by sheer fiat of backdoor interpretation of the same supreme constitution, the AGC is trying again to undertake a sleight of the hand, and to confuse the Malaysian peoples, inconsistent with the very provisions of our Rukunegara. I declare these “intentions mischievous” and demand that the AG resigns for this abject failure and I propose that even the PM should not protect and preserve the failure of this man. He has lost all legitimacy and credibility and does not protect the same constitution he has promised to serve. Wrong strategy In 1997 when the Multimedia Ministry under the leadership of its secretary-general Nuraizah Abdul Hamid, for the first time ever designed and developed our Multimedia Convergence Acts, they did it with a lot of transparency and complete openness, inclusive of the community of actors and players within that new and yet to be defined industry. Therefore, I find it unacceptable that in 2013, and after the the 13th general election, when the government has 51 percent of the participative votes against them, for the AG to support and table such a “mischievous bill” within the first sitting of the new Parliament. What are the real motives? Or, is this Umno’s backdoor way for their no-challenge to leadership agenda? Moreover, I notice that a number of ministers, including the home affairs minister, who should have nothing to do with this bill, are “scrambling to defend the indefensible.” Let me explain why. Throughout the general election period of the last 4 years, PM Najib of 1Malaysia has gone around the country “nurturing all the pains and hurts of all the non-Muslim communities and often spending millions to appease their hurt and anger.” For example, I even just heard that the PM’s Office has given the Indian community of Sungai Petani RM1.5 million for the Gandhi Memorial Building Fund two days before the GE. Now, does that not have anything to do with the anger and hurt of Indian fathers (or mothers) who convert to Islam for personal reasons of their own, and then declare that the children (minors) are also Muslim? Moreover, on May 5 the same people of Sungai Petani rejected all these false promises and still voted in the opposition candidate and incumbent, YB Johari Abdul. So, why is the AG not clear about the real issues affecting the Indians and others affected by this ‘Ketuanan Agenda?’ And why is the AG trying to destroy the historic national unity of multiethnic appreciation within this country? Moreover, as he is also a Sabahan, has not the AG alone done enough damage by closing one eye on the abuse and misuse of the different federal ministries to cheat Sabahans by awarding good federation ICs to the wrong people in Sabah? The AG must resign How can the AG frame a whole new bill for the Federal Territories on Islamic Administration, when the very territory is in fact an afterthought, and not an original state? Is he aware that the law now also covers Sabah, by way of Labuan? Worse still, how can he “deviously change the definition of the word ‘parents’ which has already been clearly and unambiguously defined by the constitution and her precedent laws?” Finally, how can he design this law without proper and appropriate consultation with the “same religious communities’ whom the PM has tried so hard to appease?”

Moreover, after this GE when 51 percent of us voted against the federal government, can the AG, as an agent of the executive, be so insensitive to ignore the feelings of the majority of us over this single but important and very legal issue and violate the constitution? Is it not also theoretically plausible that this bill was not properly tabled with the full consensus especially by the whole cabinet? How is it now that both MIC and Gerakan opposes this bill, and worse still, how can even the Bar Council point out the inconsistencies in the bill with the federal constitution which is supreme? KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

Rights of children must be upheld
July 3, 2013
COMMENT

By Charles Santiago It’s almost seems like a joke. I am referring to what ruling party leaders spew out, except that their words send a shiver down my spine and have major repercussions on our society. A Barisan Nasional lawmaker, Bung Mokhtar Radin, has asked AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani to migrate. And all Rani did was to criticize the Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia, over its racial editorials. In another attack against AirAsia, a BN MP has raised the issue of the low-cost carrier reviewing the length of its cabin crew’s skirt. It really amuses me that lawmakers are debating frivolous issues, especially when there is a nationwide uproar against the government’s efforts to push through the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act Amendment Bill 2013 that seeks to ensure that permission from just one parent is enough to convert a child to Islam. This strips children off their inherent right to choose their religion when they reach 18 years of age. This Bill has received condemnation even from BN’s component parties, with one political

party threatening to take the government to court. Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 to uphold its commitment to the protection and welfare of her children. Although this was a major step for the country, its ratification contained a number of ‘reservations’ to the provisions of the CRC. These reservations were put in place since there were discrepancies between these CRC articles and some national and Syariah laws. Malaysia submitted its first report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2006, and in return the Committee submitted its Concluding Observations to Malaysia in 2007. One of its crucial observations was that Malaysia reviews its dual legal system, the civil and syariah laws, as some domestic laws are obstacles to the full realization of the CRC in the country. Six years later, we are faced with BN discreetly trying to ram the Bill down our throats, with even its coalition partners left in the dark. If Malaysia was trying to show it is serious when it ratified the CRC, then the state should protect the rights of children and not force conversion issues on them. It does not take a brilliant mind to figure out that the Bill, if passed, would give an advantage to one partner who simply has to convert to Islam to gain custody of the children. I know we have heard many arguments against the Bill, which are linked to the encroachment on the rights of non-Muslims and alienating the non-Muslims even further. But more importantly we should not forget that this issue concerns children who would be subjected to the whims and fancy of one parent, whereby taking away their freedom of choice. As such, ratifying the CRC is not enough. The government must grow a political spine to ensure the rights of children are upheld and not infringed upon. And in this case, ensure that religion and the ego of parents do not crush those rights. Charles Santiago is DAP’s MP for Klang

Rencana

Cadangan pinda Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam jejas konsep 1Malaysia - Andy Yong
July 02, 2013 Biro Undang-Undang, Pengaduan Awam & Kebajikan Masyarakat Pemuda Nasional Parti Gerakan menyeru kerajaan dan ahli-ahli Parlimen berfikir secara meluas, adil dan praktikal mengenai cadangan pelaksanaan Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam

(Wilayah Persekutuan) (Pindaan) 2013 baru-baru ini. Ketuanya, Andy Yong berkata, ramai rakyat Malaysia menyedari kedudukan negara ini yang bermasyarakat majmuk dan harus mengambil langkah bersesuaian dan adil terhadap semua bangsa. "Kita tidak boleh menganggap hanya satu bangsa atau agama diberi keutamaan supaya tanah air ini dapat maju ke hadapan dalam semua aspek." "Gerakan sudahpun menyuarakan ketegasannya bersama Majlis Peguam dan NGO yang lain bahawa rang undang-undang sedemikian tidak harus diluluskan," katanya. Andy berpendapat Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tersilap untuk mengatakan cadangan rang undang-undang sedemikian selaras dengan keputusan kes-kes di mahkamah dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan. "Jikalau diperhatikan, fakta dan penghakiman kes kerkenaan, ia sememangnya tidak adil untuk mengatakan pihak yang seiring dengan cadangan rang undang-undang tersebut. "Bayangkan apakah perasaan seseorang ibu atau bapa umat Islam jikalau anak mereka dibenarkan menukar ke agama Kristian (sebagai contoh) secara unilateral iaitu tanpa izin yang satu lagi? "Begitu juga apakah perasaan seseorang umat Islam jikalau beliau dikehendaki untuk dibicara di mahkamah Kristian untuk mendengar kesnya? Jika rang itu diluluskan, ia pasti akan menjejaskan konsep 1Malaysia," katanya. * Ini adalah pendapat peribadi penulis dan tidak semestinya mewakili pandangan The Malaysian Insider.

Hasty laws, nasty consequences - The Malaysian Insider
J ULY 02, 2013

Elections can come and go but some things will never change: for one, the deeply flawed and arbitrary manner in which laws are cobbled together in Malaysia. Take the controversial Section 103 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill. Listening to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defend the Bill in the Parliament lobby yesterday was a cringe-worthy experience. He said that the Cabinet was aware of the objections raised by Barisan Nasional (BN)

component parties and non-government organisations and would take it into account in discussions to follow. The Deputy Prime Minister assured all that the Cabinet would be just. This sounds like a perfect case of putting the cart before the horse. This is how the process of legislation should be done- first a period of consultation and feedback; drawing up a draft of the Bill and circulating it to relevant parties for more feedback and only when there is a consensus of sorts should it be tabled in Parliament. Muhyiddin and his friends in Cabinet cannot claim to be blind-sided by the furore this amendment has caused. Upko leader and former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Bernard Dompok said that he voiced his objections early on the Bill and was surprised that it had made it to Parliament. Muhyiddin denied that the government was going back on its word by allowing the minor based on the consent of just one parent. This assurance was offered in 2009 by the then de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in the wake of a controversy of body snatching case and the conversion of children by a father who embraced Islam.. The DPM said that the amendment had to be done in line with a recent court case. Puzzling reasoning when you consider the fact that Parliament is the highest decision-making body in the land. Not the courts. Despite any court decision, Parliament can choose to make law based on public or national interest. That is a parliamentary democracy. Hurrying through ill-advised legislation is bad but taking cover behind a court decision for illadvised legislation is shocking.

‘Amend conversion Bill or we’ll go to court’
G Lavendran FMT | July 1, 2013

Gerakan Youth chief threatens to take the government to court if the Islamic Religious Administration Bill (Federal Territories) 2013 is not amended.

PETALING JAYA: Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang has warned the government that the party would proceed with court action should Section 107(b) of the Islamic Religious Administration Bill is not amended. Section 107(b) of the Islamic Religious Administration Bill states that a non-Muslim can convert to Islam if he is of sound mind, and if he has not attained the age of 18 years, and the mother or father or guardian consent to the conversion. Tan said that the Bill needs to be amended as it was against the Federal Constitution which states that a child under the age of 18 will need consent of the parents or guardian. “It is clearly stated under Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution that both parents have to give consent in order for a minor to be converted to Islam, but this Bill states otherwise,” he said. “The Bill has to be amended in order to adhere to the Federal Constitution. If it is approved, we will be forced to take court action against the government,” he added. In a recent case, V Mithran, 5, and V Sharmila, 8, were allegedly converted forcefully by their estranged father N Viran. Viran had converted to Islam and also converted the children without the consent of their mother, only known as Deepa. Tan said that the government has to take responsibility even though the Bill would only affect Federal Territories as they allowed it to override the Federal Constitution. “This Bill goes directly against the Federal Constitution, the government must be held responsible for this even though the Bill would only affect Federal Territories,” he said.

Child conversion: Courts are not infallible
July 2, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh,. Via e-mail While Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s acknowledgment that “there were ‘issues’ in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 tabled in Parliament last Wednesday is appreciated, he needs to be reminded that even the highest Courts are not infallible.

Let us scrutinise that phrase in the Constitution again: “the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian”. If we want to argue that the Court was perfectly correct in interpreting “parent” to mean either the mother or father, then how is it that the court did not notice the word “his” in that phrase and said nothing about it? Following the method used by the Court to interpret “parent”, should not the correct interpretation be that the mother or father can decide the religion of their male offspring, i.e. their son (and only one mind you, as the word is singular) but not that of any other boys and of none of the girls? Judges are human and despite all their training, experience and wisdom, cannot be said to be infallible. Would non-Muslim judges have made the very same decision that is being cited by the DPM? On Jan 21, 2010 the website of The Malaysian Bar reported as follows: “A five-member bench of the Federal Court today unanimously ruled that the previous Federal Court had misconstrued the provisions of section 340(3) of the National Land Code, 1965 (“NLC”) in its decision ofAdorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonsom Boonyanit 2000 (“Adorna Properties”) because the principle of deferred and not immediate indefeasibility applies to the NLC. Delivering the main judgment of the apex court, Chief Judge of Malaya, Arifin Zakaria said the Court has to depart from Eusoff Chin’s four-page judgement in Adorna Properties as it is erroneous. Arifin also held that the decision of Court of Appeal Judge NH Chan in OCBC Bank (M) Bhd v Pendaftar Hakmilik, Negeri Johor Darul Takzim 1999 in so far as holding the OCBC Bank’s charge as invalid is wrong as the learned judge has misapplied the principle of deferred indefeasibility in the case. In delivering his supporting judgment, Chief Justice Zaki Azmi described the error committed in Adorna Properties as “obvious and blatant”. He added that it is a well known fact that some unscrupulous people have taken advantage of this error by falsely transferring titles to themselves. (Please click here to download the judgments of Tan Sri Arifin and Tun Zaki.)” Similarly, there have been wrong or bad decision by the House of Lords in the UK. As a result, in 1966 Lord Gardiner LC announced a change of practice. He stated that although the House of Lords (the counterpart of our Federal Court) “would treat its decision as normally binding, it would depart from these when it appeared right to do so”. Therefore, please do not harp on the Federal Court’s decision on the interpretation of “parent”. Until such time that men could start reproducing themselves on their own, and similarly the ladies, “parent” must mean both partners. The proper thing would be to amend the phrase in the constitution and make its meaning perfectly clear if it is not so now. Children are born into families of any given race, religion, culture at the will of God. Mankind recognises that children are not capable of reasoning until the age of 10 or thereabouts, and of not making reasoned, rational decisions until they reach maturity at around age 18. This process of development is again something set in place by God, regardless of who you are. So who are human beings to accept the will of the mother or father who has decided to discard the race and religion he was born into, and who wants to forcibly (as the child is still a minor and incapable of deciding for himself/herself out of his/her own free will) take the family’s children along with him into his/her new religion? This, I would think, is interfering with God’s will that a child be

born into a particular race and religion, with the option for him/her to decide after maturity what he wants to be.

Cabinet should withdraw Section 107(b) of Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to give time for Malaysians to achieve national consensus on conversion of minor children to Islam in keeping with the Constitution and to promote family integrity, freedom of religion and national harmony
The Cabinet should withdraw Section 107(b) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to give time for Malaysians to achieve national consensus on conversion of minor children to Islam in keeping with the constitutional scheme contained in Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, read with Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule, and to promote family integrity, freedom of religion and national harmony. Former Cabinet Minister, United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) head Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said yesterday that the provision is a contradiction to the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation, suggesting a full discussion by Barisan Nasional on this issue and related religious issues before proceeding with the provision in Parliament. Dompok said that a few months ago when he was still in the Cabinet, he had 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. Section 107(b) of the 64-page 116-section Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 provides that the consent of one parent alone is sufficient for the conversion of minor children to Islam, which is not only contrary to the Constitution but contravenes the Cabinet decision announced on April 23, 2009 that a single parent cannot convert a minor. MIC has gone on public to say that it has not been consulted on the proposed Section 107(b) of the Bill while MCA vice president Gan Ping Sieu has described as “shocking” the “steathy” tabling of the proposed provision related to child conversion, terming it as

a “terrible disservice to the much talked-about national reconciliation”. He said the proposed provision run contrary to the collective cabinet decision on 22nd April 2009 that the consent of both parents were required in the conversion of minors. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and the Bar Council have raised concerns on the provision as any unilateral conversion of children by one parent is not fair to the minor or the other parent, apart from being unconstitutional and morally and ethically wrong. Pakatan Rakyat MPs are discussing the provision to seek a consensus on the matter. It will be a national disaster if the 13th Parliament starts off with a provision which splits the country down the middle, raising fundamental questions not only about the integrity of the Constitution but the maturity of the nation’s leaders to unite rather than to divide the diverse races, religions and cultures that make up Malaysia. It is for this reason that the Cabinet should withdraw the two-line Section 107(b) in the 64-page 116-section Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 to give time for Malaysians to achieve a national consensus on conversion of minor children to Islam in keeping with the Constitution and to promote family integrity, freedom of religion and national harmony.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM (FEDERAL TERRITORIES) BILL 2013 – PAS Selangor Is More Moderate Than BN, UMNO And Deputy Prime Minister
Published on July 3, 2013, 10:41 am in Federal government. Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 3.7.2013. ADMINISTRATION OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM (FEDERAL TERRITORIES) BILL 2013 – PAS Selangor Is More Moderate Than BN, UMNO And Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin By Declaring That Conversion Of Children Children Below 18 Requires Consent Of Both Parents And Not One Parent.

DAP opposes any unilateral conversion of children by a single parent to any religion whether it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism. DAP position is that both parents’ consent must be obtained for a legally valid religious conversion for children under 18 as provided for under Article

12(4) of the Federal Constitution. PAS Selangor is more moderate than BN, UMNO and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin by declaring that conversion of children below 18 requires consent of both parents and not one parent. Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman opposed unilateral child conversions to Islam, saying such a “big” decision needed the consent of both parents. This contrasts with Tan Sri Muhyidin’s defense of the unilateral child conversions in the proposed ADMINISTRATION OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM (FEDERAL TERRITORIES) BILL 2013 is done in accordance with existing laws and that the scope has changed. There is no doubt that Tan Sri Muhyidin is wrong as unilateral child conversion is unconstitutional by violating Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution. The Bar Council states that the Federal Constitution refers to both parents and not as proposed in this Bill, which intends to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents. In April 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz reaffirmed the constitutional provision that banned unilateral conversion by any single parent of minors to Islam, requiring the consent of both parents. Clearly this BN position in 2009 was a malicious and deceptive trick played by BN to hoodwink voters before the 2013 general elections. Once the general elections were over, BN had no moral compunction to betray the voters by changing their position. DAP leaders will be holding dialogues and meetings with affected groups on the impact of such an unconstitutional provision in the Bill. DAP stresses that DAP does not oppose any clauses that deals with the welfare of those who are Muslims, but only those provisions that impinge, impair and deprive the constitutional rights of non-Muslims. Other concerns raised by non-Muslim religious groups include whether the proposed Bill expands the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts in Malaysia beyond what is provided for the Federal Constitution. Syariah courts have jurisdiction only over “persons professing the religion of Islam”. Their lawyers contend that Parliament cannot and should not purport to expand its own jurisdiction and that of the Syariah courts to cover those who are not Muslims, by means of an over-expansive definition that goes beyond the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

LIM GUAN ENG By IBTimes Staff Reporter | June 29, 2013 7:22 PM IST

Malaysian Law of One Parent Consent for Child’s Religious Conversion Draws Major Criticism
Malaysia's new bill that says the consent of one parent is enough for the religious conversion of a child has drawn opposition from various groups of the country. The amendments put forward in the Malaysian parliament of one parent consent for conversion goes against the 2009 government legislation which clearly stated both parents' approval is a must for the mentioned process. However, the Malay-language text of the law has mentioned that the approval of "mother or father or guardian" is enough for the conversion of a minor, who is below 18, drawing criticisms from several quarters. Inter-faith group, Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said in a statement, "Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong." For the nation known for its diverse culture, ethnicity and religion, the issue of religious conversion is a very sensitive one since the state religion is Islam, which is about 60 per cent of the population. Malaysian Bar Council voiced its concern 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." Even though the proposal is yet to be passed, according to legal experts, there is a higher chance of it being approved since the proposal was a move from the government itself and thus holds more ground. However, no government officials came out with any statements with respect to the new proposition. If Malaysia manages to pass the new bill, it would be a major revamp for the decade-old existing laws and be a cause of concern for the inter-religious couples since a non-Muslim parent is not entitled to the custody of converted children as applicable under the Sharia laws of Islam. Agence France-PresseJune 28, 2013 08:32

Malaysian groups slam one-parent conversion law
Malaysian groups on Friday slammed an Islamic law enabling one parent to give consent for the religious conversion of a child, a contentious issue in the Muslim-majority country. In 2009, the government said existing legislation would be amended so that children's conversion required the consent of both parents. But amendments put forward in parliament this week retain a provision that a minor below 18 can convert to Islam if "his parent or guardian" consents.

The Malay-language text of the new law says the consent of "mother or father or guardian" is required. Interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said in a statement that the Federal Territories Bill -- effective for the capital Kuala Lumpur -- was unconstitutional and should be withdrawn. "Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage," it said. "Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong." The Malaysian Bar Council also said that "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". Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment. It was not clear why the government has proposed the amended bill now, but lawyers said it could be part of a general overhaul of the decades-old law. Parliament still has to approve the new law, but Prime Minister Najib Razak's coalition has the majority and legal amendments proposed by the government usually pass. Conversion is a sensitive issue in Malaysia, where around 60 percent of 28 million people are Muslim Malays, with sizeable non-Muslim ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities. Conversions of children and "body-snatching" cases -- where Islamic authorities tussle with families over the remains of people whose religion is disputed -- have raised tensions in past years. Under Sharia law, a non-Muslim parent cannot share custody of converted children. Non-Muslims also complain that they do not get a fair hearing when such cases end up in the religious courts set up to administer civil matters for Muslims.

jz/jsm/lm

Betrayal of non-Muslim Cabinet members
July 1, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail In April 2009 the Cabinet had decided that the children of an estranged couple should remain in the “common religion of the parents at the time of their marriage”. This was after the public outcry about the conversion of three children of an Indian couple by the father who had converted to Islam. The children were aged one, 11 and 12. The recent and out of the blues tabling in Parliament of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 with the provision on the conversion of nonMuslim children with the consent of either mother or father proves that the Cabinet

decision of April 2009 is not worth the paper it is written on. A Cabinet decision is an unwritten law, or common law. It can only be revised by the Cabinet. Civil servants have to give due respect to Cabinet decisions and implement them. In Malaysia, it is the convention that proposed legislation must first get Cabinet approval before it goes to Parliament for the formalities of a debate and vote on it. Rarely has any legislation tabled in Parliament not been passed lock, stock and barrel by the august house. Objections or no objections, practically all legislation or amendments are given the rubber stamp by Parliament as the majority-side Parliamentarians have no choice but to support the Prime Minister. The ruling party’s whip will ensure this. Therefore, tabling this Bill without the knowledge of the non-Muslim members of the Cabinet is an act of betrayal. They were a party to the decision of April 2009. It is akin to back-stabbing them. This is a very serious matter as its implications run deep. On the one hand the government talks of fostering closer inter-racial ties, on the other it shows scant respect for their rights. Even the rights of the non-Muslim Cabinet members who were a party to the decision of April 2009 have been trampled on as they were left in the dark over the proposed amendment. Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution says “the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian”. The words “parent or guardian” in this context cannot mean “either mother or father” for the simple reason that it takes a man and a woman, a mother and a father, to produce a child. The child is therefore the common property of both the mother and the father until the age of maturity from whence the child is on its own. So how can the law allow one of them to grab the child from the other by abusing religion? I’m sure there are some Muslims out there who do not support the forced conversion of minors who are born non-Muslims. If God wanted everyone to be a Muslim, he would simply not have created people of different creeds, cultures, religions. When a non-Muslim converts to Islam and then converts his under-aged children, he or she is doing it out of vengeance on the other partner. For whatever reasons, he is taking revenge on the other partner. Not only Islam, but no other religion should abet this vengeful action of the one parent on the other. No religion should tolerate this, let alone welcome it. Religions are for preaching peace and not for provoking enmity between peoples all of whom are children of the one and only God although He is called by different names in different languages. The surreptitious tabling of the Bill has become a test for all the non-Muslim members of Parliament. Will those who are in arms with Umno support it as required by the Parliamentary whip, or are they ready to stand up and put their foot down and not allow the religious rights of the non-Muslims to be steam-rolled over by parties with a holier-than-

thou attitude? In a worst case scenario are they prepared to break ranks and oppose it (not abstain from voting by not attending the session), but by actually being present when a vote is taken and opposing it? This Bill drives wedges between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. Is this what 1Malaysia is all about? Is this creation of animosity between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in full accord with the teachings of Islam? So the Cabinet decision in April 2009 was just to fool the people for a while? Where is the honour of the Cabinet? The proposed law should have codified that decision of the Cabinet instead of throwing it into the drain and coming up with something that is a full about turn. Was Najib pushed by some more powerful hand than his own to table this Bill with the controversial provision that goes against the letter and spirit of the Cabinet’s decision of April 2009? Please stop driving wedges between the people who have lived as brothers and sisters for so long. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/07/01/betrayalof-non-muslim-cabinet-members/#sthash.lb64RChS.dpuf

'Conversion case shows cabinet decisions toothless'
Malaysiakini – Thu, Jun 13, 2013 An inter-faith council has criticised the cabinet as being toothless, as civil servants appear to be defying its decision to ban parents from secretly converting children. "Was the cabinet's decision in April 2009 a flash in the pan to pacify non-Muslim Malaysians because of the numerous cases of such gross injustice? "Does this cabinet decision bear any weight at all, or do civil servants do as they wish? "Would other civil servants be enabled to do likewise with directives from the prime minister and his cabinet?" said Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism (MCCBCHST) in a statement today. They were responding to the most recent case where a woman in Negri Sembilan has discovered that her two children, minors, have been converted to Islam by her estranged husband without her consent. In April 2009, the government barred such secret conversion of children after the flare-up over the case of an ethnic Indian woman, who faced losing custody of her three children when her estranged husband converted them to Islam without her consent.

'Will the non-Muslim parent get justice?' The council also questioned why matters such as the issue of custody was never discussed with the newly-converted parent by the officer conducting the conversion of the two children? "Is it not mandatory or at least pragmatic and fair for the officer converting underage children to verify custody and other issues from their newly- converted parent? "Can and will the conversion of the children be reversed as it was premised on untruths?" The MCCBCHST also wants the authorities to answer the following: ln making this decision, was the government thinking of the best interests of the children? Will the non-Muslim parent get justice? Will the civil courts abdicate their responsibility on a "misinterpretation" of Article l21(1A) of the federal constitution? Article 121(1A) prevents the civil courts from interfering with the decisions of the syariah courts. Will police ensure the enforcement of the decision of the civil court, should it "have the courage to maintain the rights of a non-Muslim spouse and the children in her custody in a civil marriage"? Will the lslamic authorities then, too, abide by the law? In the Negri Sembilan case, the 29-year-old mother from Jelebu lodged a police report after the Islamic Affairs Department had refused to entertain her appeal for a reversal of the conversion the children, aged five and eight. Although estranged, the couple remain legally married under civil law. However, state Islamic Affairs Department director Johani Hassan had on Sunday said that, under the laws of the state, only the consent of one parent who has embraced Islam is needed to convert their children to Islam.

How did ‘withdrawn’ religious bill get to Parliament?
July 1, 2013

Upko president Bernard Dompok said the present Bill "contravenes the Federal Constitution and runs counter to the Government’s transformation plans".

PENAMPANG: The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday has shocked former Upko lawmaker, Bernard Dompok. “I am surprised and disappointed that this Bill has been approved by Cabinet for tabling at Parliament. “A few months ago I asked for its withdrawal as I felt that an earlier cabinet decision on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 should instead be implemented. “The cabinet paper was withdrawn, and I am therefore surprised that it is now in Parliament,” he said in a statement to Borneoinsider. Dompok said the present Bill “contravene the Federal Constitution and runs counter to the Government’s transformation plans” especially the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation.” He said Upko lawmakers will insist that the Bill be withdrawn from Parliament and a full discussion by the Barisan National on this and related religious issues be initiated before any Bill is presented to Parliament. The Bill has drawn all-round criticism. Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing also 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”.

Diabolic move The amendments, hinging on 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. 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.

“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 MelakaJohor 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. He also said the proposed amendment volated the commitment to gender equality. Tan warned that the vote on the bill will be a litmus test of the fidelity to the Federal Constitution of legislators elected to Malaysia’s 13th Parliament. The MCA has meanwhile slammed the “stealthy” tabling of the amendment in the Federal Territories Islamic law. “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,” said MCA vice president Gan Ping Sieu. “This will seriously and irredeemably affect the religious harmony and national unity of our country,” he said.

Unconstitutional Malaysian Bar Council president Christopher Leong also argued that the amendment was “unconstitutional” as the federal constitution provides that such words in contention refer to the plural. Leong cited Article 160 and the eleventh schedule of the federal constitution that 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. 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 had this to say: “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 yesterday. Jaspal said the law could be abused by angry spouses to convert a child as a form of revenge. “Conversion could also be done to unfairly gain custody of the children, because surely the Syariah Court will grant custody to the Muslim parent,” he added. -Borneoinsider - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/01/how-did%E2%80%98withdrawn%E2%80%99-religious-bill-get-to-parliament/#sthash.TNHPZ3s2.dpuf

Dompok says he had told Cabinet to repeal religious conversion bill

By Yiswaree Palansamy The Malaysian Insider JUN 29, 2013 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.- June 29, 2013.

All conversion is violence
July 2, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Baskaren Chandran, via e-mail Religious conversion, and attempts to convert through law, guile, coercion or any other means need to be thoroughly understood in a plural society like ours. People of the Jewish tradition, Vedic religion (now known as Hinduism), Shintoism, Taoism, and the many other religions of various tribes in the world are non-aggressive because they do not believe in aggressive conversion. Then there others who advocate conversion. In their zeal, the end more often than not justifies the means. This is a case in point of the recent controversy of a estranged father converting his

children without the mother’s knowledge. And then, there’s the “conversion” bill. First, it is downright psychological violence to stuff a new belief into a child against its will, when he or she had been brought up in another tradition. This is akin to asking a little lily to suddenly become a rose. The child will be subject to emotional trauma throughout its life. This is a crime against the child. If the government doesn’t want to reduce the age of voting from 21 years, for fear that 18 year olds are not mature enough to make a voting decision, how can you table a bill to take away a child’s decision so early in life? Why not table a bill that no child should be converted, and no conversion is possible until one reaches 21 years of age? We have laws for statutory rape. This bill is advocating a psychological rape of a child’s innermost core, the rape of the faith that has been nurtured since it was a babe. Faiths blend into the culture and day to day living of its adherent, particularly the Hindu tradition. Kolam or Rangoli designs on the floor are both religious as well as cultural symbols. A bharata natyam dance is not complete without Shiva Nataraja. So it is with every aspect of a Hindu’s life; waking, praying, eating, starting a venture, wedding, naming a child, death, etc., where culture and religion are so intertwined that you cannot divorce one from the other. Plucking such a child that has been nurtured since its birth by its parents and the community surrounding out of this environment and suddenly placing it on a foreign, antagonistic environment is equivalent to planned cultural genocide, one bit at a time. The non-aggressive traditions, like Hinduism, do not believe in numbers of followers to validate its existence. Only politicians do as they have no faith in their own vision unless sufficient number of followers echo their thoughts. The faith of a Hindu, and likewise tradtions is rooted in Sanatana Dharma, or eternal principles of truth, peace, love, non-violence and harmony within oneself and every other being and non being. Their motto since time immemorial is to live and let live. Converting or attempting to convert such a culture is violent; and violence only begets further violence. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/07/02/all-conversion-isviolence/#sthash.IDaCfthU.dpuf

Not an act of God, but the folly of zealots - S.Ramakrishnan
J ULY 04, 2013

The freedom to practice one's religion is a fundamental liberty enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. But hardly two months after the 13th general election UMNO is tabling the highly controversial conversion bill despite opposition and reservation from within BN component

members. The image that the country is trying hard to push, that Malaysia is truly Asia, with a plural and diverse population, is just the diametric opposite of the increased radicalization of UMNO. This is truly worrying and the future has a dark horizon looming. Umno has once again shown its true colours: that they care two hoots about non-Malays and non-Muslims and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib’s Razak's National Reconciliation effort. Amending a legislation to legalize the conversion of a minor who has neither free will nor knowledge about the religion he/she has been converted to tantamount to bullying and forcing the issue down the throats of minorities. Under the new legislation, a parent or guardian can convert a minor. Allowing even guardians to convert a child is a flagrant abuse of power and is against the free choice option of children. Logically, all conversion should be after 18 years old where the person knows and understand what he is going into. The tabling of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 in Parliament last week, which allows only one parent's consent, or that of the guardian, to convert a minor to Islam has been done with no consideration for the feelings and wishes of minorities. The consent of both the parents is a must and no two ways about it. This is what the cabinet in 2009 decided and why the change now? Even the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa, one of the most respected Islamic scholars in the world today, wrote under the sub-heading "Freedom of religion in Islam", "The essential question before us is can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can, because the Qur'an says, 'Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,' [Qur'an, 109:6], and, "Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve,' [Qur'an, 18:29], and, 'There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is distinct from error' [Qur'an, 2:256]." But the UMNO leaders with the holier than thou attitude, may not agree with grand mufti of Egypt. By persisting to table this sensitive and distasteful bill in parliament, UMNO is trying to whip up Malay Muslim chauvinism to instill fear and reprisal on non-Malays for voting Pakatan Rakyat in GE13. With large number of young Malays and urban voters supporting Pakatan Rakyat, such tactics by UMNO will only bring their own downfall sooner. UMNO and their supporters instead of countering fundamentalism are themselves becoming more radicalized.

The largest and dominant political party is being increasingly insensitive to minorities which does not augur well for the future of Malaysia remaining a land of plural and diverse tolerance or even being truly Asia. Malaysians are now turning towards Pakatan Rakyat leaders to bring about the inclusiveness and provide the constitutional guarantees to all citizens. Do unto others what you want others do to you.

Implausible nonsense: Malaysia’s political theatre - Dr Lim Teck Ghee
July 06, 2013 There are two types of nonsense – plausible and implausible. Plausible nonsense is when someone spins a story to children, which although implausible to adults is plausible to young minds. Though not believable to adults, most children stories have the redeeming value of being educational and entertaining. Then there is implausible nonsense which does not make any sense at all. Clowns and buffoons engage in implausible nonsense for the purpose of entertaining audiences and bringing comic relief. In Shakespeare’s plays, his clowns and fools did not only invite laughter but they often had something profound to say. The Shakespeare fool, who is usually a person of low or common birth, provided insights into the main characters belonging to the nobility as well as shedding light on the central themes of the play. Our substandard political theatre In Malaysia we have political clowns dominating the national stage but unlike in Shakespeare’s plays, they provide no entertainment or anything of merit or significance to our conflict-ridden society. Instead, they simply push up our stress levels. Why the ‘child conversion’ ambush now? When given the opportunity to say something sensible about the controversial Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill tabled in parliament recently, the DPM defended the government action by claiming that “the cabinet has discussed this in detail and … in the current situation, there have been several guidelines that we used. One of them is the court’s decision on a previous case and the second is the Malaysian constitution. So that is the jurisdiction of power we have today.”

Unlike his colleague, Nazri Aziz who has been consistently principled on the issue, Muhyiddin has conveniently forgotten that the new Cabinet decision is overturning an

earlier decision of which he was a party to. He could have used the press conference occasion to demonstrate his Malaysian and not Malay leadership qualities but chose instead to cloud the issue even more by providing spurious legal and constitutional arguments. We have had more than enough public discussion and debate during the past few years on the issue of the conversion of children under the age of 18 as well as other cases of contested conversion to Islam. Not only is there a broad consensus of opposition against forced conversion – whether of minors or adults – among our population of non-Muslim faith and religions but Islamic organizations such as Sisters in Islam and the Islamic Renaissance Front and many concerned Muslim individuals have spoken out with regard to the conversion of nonMuslim minors. Now that the elections are over, perhaps Muhyiddin is trying to pander to the Umno delegates whose support he seeks in the party’s coming general assembly meeting. If he is doing so, he is not helping the cause of Islam in Malaysia and its avowed message of fairness and tolerance. Consolation for us There is however one solace. In Shakespeare’s comedies, fools are called upon to encourage a more serious examination of the situations and characters of a play. Fools not only amuse and entertain, but they also help the audience to ponder on serious social, religious and political issues. This is so true in the prolonged wayang kulit and the performing political clowns that invariably take centre stage before Umno’s big day, the party election due this year in November. - July 6, 2013.

Of the fairness or unfairness of unilateral conversion - Aidil Khalid
J ULY 07, 2013

It takes only one word, and that word is parent. Yes – parent – and that is to say, without an ‘s’. Should that single word be read in the national language as “ibu atau bapa”, or should the same be read as “ibu dan bapa” instead? In light of the proposed Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 (‘the proposed bill’), the reading as to the former would mean that a father or a mother alone could unilaterally convert a child into Islam without having to obtain the consent of the other parent; while the latter, on the other hand, would make it compulsory for the consent of both

parents to be obtained. Therefrom sprung a whole host of blitzkrieg attack from the media, and, understandably, based upon such coverage, a large chunk of public reactions seem to be harsh slamming and strenuous criticisms. The chief minister of Penang reportedly said that a move to pass the proposed bill – where the word ‘parent’ in its proposed section 107(b) reads as “ibu atau bapa” instead of “ibu dan bapa” – reeks of “malicious and deceptive trick” on the part of the government. And there are even ministers in the government’s very own cabinet who voiced out concerns about the unfairness of such a move. With the latest being the report that the government has now decided to withdraw the proposed bill, “to ensure that any religious decision made is fair to all.” The main thrust of the criticisms, so it seems, would be as to the question of fairness or unfairness in allowing only a father without the consent of the mother, or vice versa, to convert the religion of a child. The learned president of the Bar Council went even a couple of steps further so as to accuse such a move being “unconstitutional”. But is that really the case? Is it really that unfair? It is pertinent to put the subject matter upon which any such allegations of unfairness or unconstitutionality under close and careful scrutiny. What is unfair or unconstitutional cannot be summarily or arbitrarily concluded without reference to established principles of justice. For fairness and justice are but abstract concepts, the determination of which must be strictly subjected to and scrupulously guided by proper reading of the law and constitution, lest it may lead to abuse of such abstraction by many quarters. The abuse, should it be by one in the position of authority, might lead to dictatorship where fairness or unfairness is determined by the fancy of one man alone; should it be by the public at large, might lead to anarchism, chaos and uncertainty, where what constitutes fair or unfair being dictated by just about anyone according to their own liking or disliking. Such is the danger of allowing such abstract concepts to stray, severed from the wellsprings of established principles. Thankfully, we have several authoritative references to look into, for the above purpose of determination. I propose however to look into only two. The first would be the current piece of legislation of which the proposed bill seeks to replace – and that would be the existing Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (Act

505). It is important to look into the existing law as it stands today so as to determine whether the allegation of bad intention in the move to introduce the proposed bill, holds any water at all. Secondly, we have the Federal Court’s judgment in the landmark case of Subashini Rajasingam v. Saravanan Thangothoray & Other Appeals [2008] 2 CLJ 1 (‘Subashini’s Case’). In this regard it is important to look at how the apex court interpreted the word ‘parent’ as used in the Federal Constitution, and thereafter, determine the question of fairness or unfairness as the case may be upon both of the parents into effect. Section 95 of the current and existing Administration of Islamic Law (Fedral Territories) Act 1993 (Act 505) reads as follows:"Bagi maksud Bahagian ini, seseorang yang tidak beragama Islam boleh masuk Islam jika dia sempurna akal dan – mencapai umur lapan belas tahun; atau jika dia belum mencapai lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan kemasukannya." (emphasis is mine) Yes – ibu atau bapa. It is spelled there very clearly. And it has been so in forced for almost 20 years now, since 1993 when the Act was passed and thereafter gazetted. Thus when the proposed section 107(b) of the proposed bill construes the word parent as “ibu atau bapa”, it is merely reiterating what has been the position of the law all these while. Nothing new is being imposed here. Neither is there anything sneaky. The accusation that the move to pass the proposed bill is made with “malicious and deceptive trick”, as the chief minister of Penang had so defamatorily accused the federal government of, is clearly without any merit whatsoever. It is noted that there are voices who claim that the objection is not so much to the wordings of the proposed bill, as it is to the fact that – now that the election is over – the government changes direction from its previous decision in 2009 where it was announced that unilateral conversion of a child would be barred and the consent of both parents be made compulsory. Granted, but this argument too, must be examined closely, and mustn’t be accepted at its face value. For it is trite that the cabinet is an executive body, and that being the case, it is not vested with the authority to undertake any policy that goes against the wordings of the Federal Constitution. Merely being executive and not legislative in nature, the cabinet can only execute what the laws and constitution dictates; they aren’t allowed to usurp upon the purviews of the legislature or the judiciary for that matter. And in this regard, the provision of article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution clearly provides that “the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or

guardian.” Yes – parent – as in without an ‘s’. But how does one interpret that word? Clearly just as much as parent without an ‘s’ could mean a father, it could also mean a mother, or simply father and mother. This brings us to the Federal Court’s decision in the Subashini’s case, wherein Nik Hashim FCJ, in delivering the majority judgment of the court, held as follows:“After careful study of the authorities, I am of the opinion that … [t]he word ‘parent’ in art. 12(4) of the FC, which states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian, means a single parent.” (emphasis is mine) Just as important is the minority judgment of the court, wherein Abdul Aziz Mohamed FCJ observed as follows:“One has to begin by construing what is the meaning of “parent”. The ordinary meaning is ‘a father or mother’. See, for example, the Concise Oxford Dictionary. So is the legal meaning. Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th edn, gives the meaning as “the lawful father or mother of someone”. The relevant phrase in clause (4) has, therefore, to be read as “by his father or mother or guardian … Either father or mother will do, not both.” (emphasis is mine) If such is the interpretation of the court, however good intentioned the cabinet were in their earlier decision to require the consent of both parents, the fact simply is that they cannot proceed with such a decision. It will go against the constitution for them to do so. It will be unconstitutional and it will render the same to be ultra vires. If a father, for instance, or a mother, wishes to convert his or her child, but is sent away by the authority and asked to obtain the consent of his or her spouse first, such a requirement would be a fundamental breach and violation of the right of the singular parent, as protected under article 12(4). It is in this light that the position taken by the Bar Council in criticising the government seems perplexing. Shouldn’t they instead commend the government for the latter’s honourable move to strictly comply with the constitutional provision? And that is, of course, not to forget also that notwithstanding whatever that had been said by the learned president of the Bar Council, the fact simply remains that he is not in the position to declare unconstitutional what has been declared by the court to be constitutional.

For the Bar Council is not the judiciary. It is not vested with any such declaratory jurisdiction. Be that as it may, the fundamental question remains: was the Federal Court’s decision in the Subashini’s case fair?; had it not stripped away the wife’s natural right as a poor mother to her own child?; had the decision not been absurdly unjust and utterly unfair? How o how, could a unilateral conversion of a child by the father alone without the consent of the mother, or vice versa, be said to be fair? The problem with these lines of criticisms is that it simply fails to appreciate the whole matrix of the judgment. As reported in the CLJ Law Report, the broad ground of judgment is rather lengthy and voluminous. There are 101 pages in total. But it is very important that it be read and appreciated in its totality if any conclusion as to the fairness or unfairness were to be properly attained at all, so as to avoid misconstruing the effect of the court’s decision. But for the benefit of those who do not have the time or access to read the whole judgment, the gist of the relevant part is thus quoted here, wherein Abdul Aziz Mohamed FCJ, in the minority judgment, at pages 94 to 95 of the case report observed as follows:“But that does not mean that the other parent has no right to object or to prevent his child from being taught that religion or being converted to Islam… Generally speaking, what those sections, especially s. 5, do is to give both parents an equal say in the affairs and destinies of their children. The fact that each has an equal say must necessarily result sometimes in opposing wishes. If both agree over something concerning their child no problem arises and the right of equal say is not of operative importance. If they are opposed, a decision has to be reached as to whose wishes are best for the child, otherwise the child might suffer a disadvantage. The right of equal say entitles one spouse to come to court to prevent the other from doing what he or she intends to do about their child. The court will then decide for the wife or the husband, unless they can agree. Otherwise it ends with the thing being done according to the wishes of one parent only … The wife has an equal right not to want Sharvind to be converted. She is claiming custody of the two children, hoping probably that, having legal custody of the children, she will be in good position in law to obtain the permanent injunction against conversion in the petition.”

In a nutshell what the judge is saying is that no one can deny the right of a father or a mother to convert his or her child, not even the other parent. But notwithstanding that – and pay attention to this for it is of paramount importance – that doesn’t mean that the other parent is denied the right to object. To the very contrary, he or she has all the equal right in the world to object. And if such an objection is raised, the court will then have to determine the matter based upon the facts presented before it, and in the lights of the contending wishes between the parents on the one hand, and the interest of the child on the other, make a decision. Thus there is no question of unfairness here. It has been fair and square all along. In fact, to require the father or mother to obtain the consent of the other – in which event if the parents are not in good terms would almost certainly be impossible – would amount to stripping away the fundamental right of the father or the mother to have his or her own respective wishes upon the child. By construing ‘parent’ as ‘father or mother’, as the court did, would at least allow the converted parent an opportunity of being heard by the court, without depriving the right of the other to object. By contrast, should the word be construed as ‘father and mother’ instead, the converted parent would not have any opportunity at all of being heard, for the mandatory requirement of consent – which now renders impossible in light of the relationship turning sour – would make it even the court not having the power to entertain any such application should the mandatory requirement not being fulfilled. Any application to convert the child would then just be summarily dismissed for want of consent. Under no circumstances at all could the poor converting parent gets his or her child to be converted along, however well meaning or however reasonable the reasons he or she may have. Now let us consider this. Say that the father converts to Islam, or the mother converts to Islam – whichever the case may be – does that make it right for the law to strip away whatever paternal or maternal authority that the father or mother possesses over the infant child with regards to religion, just because he or she has now converted to Islam? And between the two contending wishes of the now disputing parents, does it make it right to deny the converted parent’s wishes upon the child’s religion from being heard at all? Does that not amount to religious discrimination against the converted parent, and as such a clear violation of article 8 of the Federal Constitution that says “there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion”?

Does it not go against the very principle of natural justice, the legal maxim of which – audi alteram partem – requires that both sides of the disputing party be given equal rights of being heard? In any event, it is pertinent to point out that the effect of allowing a singular parent without having to obtain the consent of the other would only make it legal to unilaterally convert the religion of a child. It does not make it automatically right. It simply means that legally it is allowed, but the rightness or wrongness of which would have to be determined by the court based upon the facts of each individual cases, should the other parent objects. That is all. Needless to say, there is a gap between what is only legal on the one side, and what is legal and also right on the other. Perhaps at this juncture it must also be made clear that what is being discussed through out here is only pertaining to the religion of the child, not custody, for the two are of separate matters. In the case of Shamala Sathiyaseelan v. Dr. Jeyaganesh C Mogarajah [2004] 3 CLJ 786, for instance, although the father had earlier converted the child to the religion of Islam, the court held that the custody of the child nevertheless remains with the mother, not the father. This ought to put to rest the allegation that some unscrupulous individuals may easily win custody by merely converting the child. Nothing can be further from true for the matter is not as simple as that. The court will look into the facts of the matter holistically, rather than simplistically conclude based solely upon whether the child has been converted or not. That as it is, it seems to me that the court had indeed aptly and acutely laid down the principle of justice rather very mindfully in it’s judgment in the Subashini’s case. It was a thoroughly well thought, sound and well-meaning decision. Thrust with such conflicting dispute, surrounded by sensitivities upon various corners, ringed by constitutional and emotional issues all around, the court honourably threaded the thin line of fairness and equity. As for the proposed bill with the words “ibu atau bapa”, notwithstanding the fact that the government has decided to withdraw from further tabling, the fact remains that the current piece of legislation has the very same provision with the very same wordings. The position of the law therefore, particularly with regards to the conversion of a child remains very much the same, as much as the constitutional position as interpreted by the court.

The effect of which, looked upon holistically and examined upon microscopically, I would not hesitate to say: not in the least seems unfair. - July 7, 2013. *Aidil Khalid is an advocate and solicitor practicing in Seri Kembangan, Selangor.

Pakar perlu jelaskan undang-undang pentadbiran Islam
July 8, 2013

Bekas Hakim Mahkamah Rayuan berkata, penjelasan itu perlu supaya tidak timbul pergeseran di antara masyarakat.

Oleh Nurulhuda Che Das dan Siti Aisyah Harun KUALA LUMPUR: Penggubalan sesebuah undang-undang yang melibatkan masyarakat berbilang agama dan kaum di negara ini perlu diterangkan sejelas-jelasnya kepada masyarakat supaya tidak timbul pergeseran di antara mereka akibat kekeliruan itu. Menyambut baik penarikan balik pembentangan Rang Undang-Undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013, bekas Hakim Mahkamah Rayuan Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah berkata penjelasan itu mesti dilakukan pakar undang-undang. “Yang menerangkan itu eloklah orang yang pakar undang-undang atau menteri yang telah diterangkan (mengenai rang undang-undang) oleh pegawai-pegawai daripada (Jabatan) Peguam Negara,” katanya kepada Bernama. Kerajaan pada Jumaat menarik balik pembentangan rang undang-undang yang antara lain membenarkan ibu atau bapa yang memeluk Islam menentukan agama anak adalah Islam. Ia dibaca buat kali pertama di Dewan Rakyat, 26 Jun lepas. Timbalan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dalam satu kenyataan sebelum ini berkata Kabinet telah membincangkan isu status agama anak dalam kes ibu atau bapa memeluk agama Islam dengan mengambil kira pandangan dan kebimbangan pelbagai pihak termasuk parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN). Kerajaan menarik balik Menurut Muhyiddin, keputusan menarik balik rang undang-undang itu juga dibuat bagi memberi

masa kepada kerajaan dan semua pihak untuk meneliti semula undang-undang berkenaan secara holistik dan hanya akan dibentangkan semula setelah mendapat persetujuan semua pihak. Mohd Noor menarik perhatian Seksyen 107(b) rang undang-undang itu adalah selari dengan Perkara 12 (4) Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang memperuntukkan bahawa agama seseorang berusia di bawah 18 tahun hendaklah ditetapkan oleh ‘his parent or guardian’, yang membawa maksud ibu atau bapa atau penjaga. Beliau menjelaskan bahawa perkataan ‘parent’ (singular) itu tidak ditafsirkan sebagai ibu dan bapa kerana dengan jelas tidak ditulis sebagai ‘parents‘ (plural). “Sebab itu Perlembagaan (Persekutuan) dengan sengaja, bukan lalai dan bukan silap, menggunakan (singular) parent, maka terpulang kepada bapa atau ibu untuk membuat keputusan,” katanya. Tambahnya, adalah tidak logik jika ada pihak yang mahu kedua-dua ibu bapa diberi hak untuk menentukan agama anak mereka kerana ia akan menimbulkan masalah yang tiada penyelesaiannya.

`Tidak boleh menyatakan parent‘ “Penggubal undang-undang juga tidak boleh menyatakan parents, melainkan kalau kedua-duanya (ibu bapa) memeluk agama Islam (maka) tidak ada masalah. Kalau seorang parent memeluk agama Islam dan nak bawa anak dia masuk Islam, tentulah yang seorang lagi tidak setuju. “Kita tengok penjaga yang menjaga anak pula. Anak itu bukan maternal blood (darah daging) dan dia (penjaga) boleh menentukan agama. Maka tidak wajar sekiranya kedua-dua (ibu bapa) nak putuskan agama anak mereka,” jelas Mohd Noor. Beliau berkata isu diskriminasi agama tidak timbul apabila ada yang melihat peruntukan Perlembagaan Persekutuan itu sebagai hanya menyebelahi agama Islam. “Pada pandangan saya, tidak ada diskriminasi agama di sini oleh kerana jalan yang terbaik adalah salah seorang daripada ibu bapa menentukan agama anak,” katanya.

Bagaimanapun beliau berkata dalam konteks itu, terdapat diskriminasi yang dipanggil ‘positive discrimination’ yang bermaksud diskriminasi yang dibenarkan undang-undang seperti perlindungan hak Orang Asli dan keistimewaan orang Melayu. Isu tidak dibangkit “Dalam hal ini, agama (rasmi) kita adalah Islam. Agama (di negara ini) bukan semua setaraf. Islam adalah agama Persekutuan tetapi agama-agama lain perlu diamalkan secara aman dan harmoni. “Jadi, kalau Perlembagaan Persekutuan menyebelahi atau pilih kasih kepada Islam, maka itu adalah sewajarnya kerana Islam itu adalah agama setiap negeri di Malaysia,” katanya. Mohd Noor turut meminta supaya isu itu tidak diungkit sehingga menjurus kepada mana-mana desakan supaya Perlembagaan Persekutuan dipinda, dan seterusnya menyebabkan masyarakat tidak lagi sehaluan.

Dalam pada itu, selain berharap rang undang-undang itu yang menyebut ‘his parent or guardian’ menentukan agama anak dikekalkan seperti yang diperuntukkan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, beliau mencadangkan satu peruntukan khas diwujudkan. “Peruntukan khas ini bagi membolehkan suami atau isteri, dan anak yang masih dalam agama asal membuat tuntutan hak mereka ketika mereka masih menjadi sebuah keluarga, di mahkamah sivil berikutan (status) tidak lagi diiktiraf mahkamah syariah (selepas perceraian),” katanya. Tuntutan semua pihak Mengulas perkara itu, Mohd Noor berkata langkah itu akan memastikan tiada percanggahan tuntutan semua pihak (suami, isteri dan anak), terutama dalam soal hak yang sepatutnya menjadi milik anak apabila berlaku perceraian. “Seeloknya (kita) berpegang kepada apa yang telah dinyatakan dalam Perlembagaan yang telah dipersetujui semua pihak sejak 55 tahun dulu untuk menjamin masa depan bangsa Malaysia. “Kalau hendak diubah landskapnya, maka akan berubah banyak perkara yang lain. Malang sungguh kalau rakyat kita nak rombak semula apa yang kita sudah persetujui 55 tahun dulu. Jika tetap dipinda, ke mana haluan negara bangsa kita?” tambahnya. Bernama

- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/08/pakar-perlujelaskan-undang-undang-pentadbiran-islam/#sthash.v9BbKmeo.dpuf

It’ll be back, Jamil Khir says of child conversion law
BY ZURAIRI AR JULY 08, 2013UPDATED: JULY 08, 2013 05:41 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The controversial Bill on unilateral child conversion to Islam will be resubmitted once the authorities “streamline” it, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (picture) said today.

Earlier this morning, the minister had withdrawn the disputed Administration of the Religion of Islam

(Federal Territories) Bill 2013 from Parliament following vocal opposition to the proposed law, along with the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Syariah Criminal Procedures (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2013 “We will ‘perkemaskan’ (streamline) them in the future,” Jamil Khir told reporters here. He did not, however, specify when the Bills will be re-tabled, and explained that the authorities will fall back on the current laws in the meantime. “We’ll see, after consulting a number of bodies of every level, after that is done then we’ll table it,” he said. Before the amended proposal, the law in effect was the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) 1993, also known as Act 505. Last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement that the Cabinet had discussed the matter at length and decided to retract the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 pending further study. He was reported by national news agency Bernama as saying that the issue of a child’s religious status, particularly in cases where either the mother or father is Muslim, should be discussed thoroughly among all relevant stakeholders before being made law. “The Cabinet had agreed that the retraction of the Bill was necessary to ensure that the issue on the determination of the child’s religion in such cases was resolved in a fair manner for everyone,” he was quoted as saying. All further amendments to the law contained in the Bill would also be retracted for now, Muhyiddin said. The attempt to legislate single parent consent for child conversion to Islam had caught the attention of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and Bar Council shortly after it was tabled, with both calling the move unconstitutional. The MCCBCHST went a step further and slammed the Cabinet as “insincere” for introducing the law despite a 2009 announcement by then law minister Nazri banning the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam. The storm over proposed law resulted in a rare public disagreement among some Cabinet members, which saw ministers Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, Datuk Paul Low and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz voicing their objection to the Bill. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by

both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.

Muslims urged to defend their faith and child conversion bill
J ULY 07, 2013

Muslims have been urged to make their stand and ensure the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013, now on hold, is tabled and passed by Parliament. Sukarelawan Peguam (SukaGuam) chairman Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who called on Muslims to unite and defend their faith on this issue, told Mingguan Malaysia the act of defending the faith was jihad (holy war). "What is the point of acknowledging Islam as Malaysia's official religion when a bill which upholds the faith of Islamic children can't be tabled and passed in Parliament?" On Friday, after a flood of criticism from both BN and opposition figures, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the bill had been withdrawn for review. The proposed tabling of the bill, which allowed for the conversion of minors to Islam by a single parent, had drawn flak from non-Muslims from both sides of the political divide. Khairul said the unilateral conversion issue had already been explained clearly and at length in the case of R. Subashini v T. Saravanan in Dec 2007. In that case, the Federal court said Subashini’s husband, T. Saravanan, had the right to convert their four-year-old son to Islam without the knowledge of the mother. However, in April 2009, the Cabinet decided that children should remain in the religion of their parents at the time of the latter’s marriage if one of the parents decided to convert. The government also declared that it would ban parents from secretly converting children. This was to ensure that outstanding issues in a marriage would be settled to prevent children from becoming victims of a conversion battle. However, Khairul’s view is that “there is no need for both parents to consent to their children's conversion if one of the parents has already embraced the Islamic faith." He urged the government to engage MPs, lawyers, Islamic non-government organisations and Islamic scholars to find a consensus on the issue. "These dialogues are necessary so that the bill can be reviewed and tabled in Parliament again, following Friday's events. "This issue will also ascertain how far MPs, especially those who are Muslim, are willing to observe their oath to uphold the law and Islam as the official religion.

"There is no need to admit defeat without first going to battle." Meanwhile, Coalition of Malaysian Islamic non-governmental organisations (Pembela) chairman Dr Yusri Mohamad hopes the review of the bill will proceed smoothly without pressure from any quarters. "We hope that the final decision will be accepted by all parties even if it is not completely in their favour. "I feel that it is impossible to find a formula which all parties will find agreeable but we must be ready to compromise." - July 7, 2013.

Syariah law takes priority in unilateral conversion issue, says PAS ulama chief
J ULY 06, 2013

Even before the dust has settled on the controversial unilateral conversion issue, PAS ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib waded in by claiming that the syariah law should be followed on this issue. Online portal the Mole reported Harun as saying it was clearly stated that the father has the right to determine his children's religion if they have yet to reach mature age. "I personally feel that the syariah law should be applied in this matter. If the father converts to Islam, then the children will automatically be Muslims as well." Harun added that in Islam, God's ruling is the most fair, after it was pointed out that there had been complaints about such rulings being unfair. He was responding to the issue of unilateral conversion of minors following the tabling of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013. On Friday in Parliament, the tabling of the bill was deferred, to the relief of non-Muslims around the country. PAS central working committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, however, said everyone should be really objective in finding justice for all parties involved. "Would it be fair to the other parent if there was a reversed role where the mother converted her child to another religion?" he questioned. Malay right wing group Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said reference should be made to the Quran to find an answer to the unilateral conversion issue. "If the answer is not in the Quran, we should then refer to the Hadith, failing which, the council of ulamas should convene to discuss the issue," he said. - July 6, 2013.

Minors must follow Muslim parent, insists fatwa council chief
JULY 06, 2013

File photo of Muslims praying during Aidilfitri at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur on August 19, 2012. The National Fatwa Council says if either the husband or wife embraces Islam, their child who is underage must follow Islam. — AFP pic PETALING JAYA, July 6 — The National Fatwa Council (NFC) maintains that any child whose parent embraces Islam must follow suit, despite the Cabinet’s decision yesterday to take off the table a controversial proposed law allowing the unilateral conversion of minors to the religion. The Najib administration retracted speedily an amendment to the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 pending further study, in the wake of widespread complaint by non-Muslim groups and disagreement from some ministers. “From the view of Islam, if either the husband or wife embraces Islam, their child who is underage must follow Islam,” NFC chair Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Husin was quoted saying by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today. He told the broadsheet the council had decided on the matter at its 87th conference four years ago, saying that it was based on a saying by Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that the religion was supreme. The council had also decided that the Muslim parent would have custody of the child, Abdul Shukor was reported as saying. The government’s latest move to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which politicians and non-Muslim groups have described as unfair, triggered an uproar among the country’s non-Muslim minorities when the proposal was tabled for first reading in Parliament last week. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment,

including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who had announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, speaking out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago. In 2009, as then minister in charge of law, Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam. Despite this, section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which critics have said would do away with the need for consent from both parents for a child’s conversion to Islam, was introduced in Parliament last Wednesday. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. Cases since Nazri’s 2009 announcement, such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge, also illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/minors-must-follow-muslimparent-insists-fatwa-council-chief#sthash.SNAjfUnX.dpuf

‘Conversion Bill based on existing guidelines’
Anisah Shukry July 1, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today acknowledged there were “issues” in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 tabled in Parliament last Wednesday. But he defended the move by stressing that the Cabinet had used “several guidelines” in assessing and ultimately approving the Bill, which allows unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, to be tabled in Parliament.

“The cabinet has discussed this in detail and we understand there must be a fairer decision but we also understand that in the current situation, there have been several guidelines that we used,” said Muhyiddin in a press conference today. “One of them is the court’s decision on a previous case and the second is the Malaysian constitution. So that is the jurisdiction of power we have today.” The Bill has drawn flak from multiple corners, including Barisan Nasional component parties MIC and MCA, as the word “parent” instead of “parents” in the amendment makes it legal for a sole guardian to convert children below the age of 18 to Islam. MCA vice president Gan Ping Siew had slammed the “stealthy” tabling of the amendment in the Federal Territories Islamic law, according to news portal Borneo Insider. “I am shocked to learn that the government is tabling the Bill as it contains controversial provisions that affect the constitutional and religious rights of the non Muslim,” he was quoted as saying. “This will seriously and irredeemably affect the religious harmony and national unity of our country.” Muhyiddin said today: “We take heed of the criticism, we understand that there are a few matters that have become the focus of the public’s attention “We will take into consideration the views of certain quarters, including BN component parties MCA, MIC and others who have voiced out the same issue. We will act based on the policies made. But when a reporter pointed out that the amendments to the Bill contradicted a 2009 Cabinet decision to ban unilateral conversions of minors to Islam, Muhiddin said: “yes, but this is the latest [developments]. “We will examine this carefully and [Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs] Jamil Khir Baharom will make an announcement when the time comes,” he said.

Engage the stakeholders In another development, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy said parts of the new Bill could act as a tool of manipulation with regards to maintenance, custody of children as well as unilateral declaration on the religious status of disputed deceased partners in controversial conversions cases. “In reality in passing this bill, the Syariah court will abrogate the jurisdiction of the civil court in regards to ancillary reliefs for the non-Muslims,” he said in a statement today. He also pointed out that the Bill appeared to be in direct confrontation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Both these conventions had been ratified by the Malaysian government. He urged the AG Chambers to engage with other stakeholders such the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, religious leaders, Bar Council and the Syariah legal fraternity before tabling the bill.

Calling the tabling of the Bill as provocative, Waythamoorthy said “any government Bills tabled should not antagonize the government’s transformation plans”.

‘FT Islamic Bill being used to incite hatred’
Lisa J. Ariffin July 3, 2013 Perak Mufti says the new Bill is redundant and accuses 'certain parties' of inciting hatred towards the Muslim community by playing up the issue. PETALING JAYA: Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria today claimed the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was being used by certain quarters to incite hatred towards the Muslim community. The outspoken Islamic scholar told FMT that the Bill was only formalising a standard practice which was agreed upon “since Merdeka Day”. “Unilateral child conversions has been agreed upon since Merdeka Day. Why do they only want to bring it up now?” Harussani asked. “They only want to incite hatred towards the Muslims,” he said. Harussani told FMT that the consent of single parents for the conversion of minors to Islam had always been the practice in the country. “If one parent is Muslim then the child has to be Muslim. This is based on Islamic law and cannot be contested,” he said. Since the Bill was tabled in Parliament last week, critics have cried foul because it means seeking the consent of either parent instead of both – a move deemed to be unconstitutional and contravening the Cabinet’s prohibition. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam in an attempt to appease the non-Muslim community. Despite the Cabinet’s decision in 2009, there have been such cases, among them a Hindu mother in Negeri Sembilan who discovered that her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisles are already banding together to thwart the Bill that they fear may lead to more of the agonising custodial battles that are associated with marital breakdowns where only one parent is Muslim. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin acknowledged there were “issues” in the Bill, but he defended the move by stressing that the Cabinet had used “several guidelines” in assessing and ultimately approving the Bill to be tabled in Parliament. - See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/07/03/ft-islamic-bill-beingused-to-incite-hatred/#sthash.qmOfQtGb.dpuf

Selangor, Perak muftis tell critics of child conversion law to back off
JULY 01, 2013

PETALING JAYA, July 1 ― The Cabinet’s 2009 ruling against unilateral child conversions to Islam is not applicable to Muslims, said Selangor Mufti Datuk Tamyes Abd Wahid, insisting that children in mixed-creed marriages must embrace Islam when one parent does so. Critics have cried foul over Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 tabled on Wednesday which, they allege, seeks to broaden the definition of parental consent for the conversion of minors to Islam to mean either parent instead of both ― a move they deem to be unconstitutional and contravening the Cabinet’s prohibition. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among Muslim-dominated Malaysia’s religious minorities

In terms of custody law (child care), young children fall under the care of the mother. But in cases where there are different religions, the child should follow the religion of Muslim parent,” Tamyes (picture) was quoted as saying by the Sinar Harian news portal today. “For example, if the father embraces Islam but the mother does not, then the religion of their underage children must follow the father’s,” he said. Already, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are banding together in an attempt to thwart the law that they fear may lead to more of the agonising and convoluted custodial battles that are associated with marital breakdowns where only one parent is Muslim. Yesterday, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang urged Putrajaya to abort its plan to push through the law as he joined other politicians here in urging for national consensus on the sensitive matter before any attempt for parliamentary approval. “It will be a national disaster if the 13th Parliament starts off with a provision which splits the country down the middle,” Lim warned in a statement. The Gelang Patah MP and DAP’s parliamentary opposition leader said the proposed provision would not only raise questions over the integrity of the Constitution, the country’s supreme law, but

also the maturity of the leaders here to unite a country of diverse races, religions and cultures. But today, Tamyes insisted that none should dispute the proposed law, saying that doing so was tantamount to challenging Islam itself. “The issue of religion cannot be disputed. These laws should be maintained to ensure the dignity of Islam in the proper position,” he said in the report. Separately, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said the Bill was only formalising a standard practice. “Single-parent consent for the conversion of minors to Islam has always been the practice. Why dispute it now?” Harussani he was quoted saying by Sinar Harian. “This is based on Islamic law and cannot be contested.” Despite the Cabinet’s 2009 ruling, cases since ― such as that of a Hindu mother in Negri Sembilan who discovered in April her estranged husband had converted their two underage children to Islam after he had done so a year earlier without her knowledge ― illustrate the lack of adherence to the ruling. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversion provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/selangor-perak-muftistell-critics-of-child-conversion-law-to-back-off#sthash.PxX5A74I.dpuf

Guard against pressure on conversion, LGBT rights, says PAS MP
J ULY 04, 2013

A PAS representative urged the government to guard against giving in to pressure from human rights organisations, particularly from abroad, seeking freedom of religion for Muslims and freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) practices. "According to an unofficial source, I understand that these human rights lobbyists are demanding the freedom for Muslims to convert or apostasy, and the freedom for practices which completely go against Islam such as LGBT," said Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz (Pas-Pasir Mas) yesterday. During the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address, he advised the government to handle the issue and added that the opposition would support human rights based on Islamic

teachings. He also suggested the government make national youth policies more Islamic in order to prevent Muslim youths from falling prey to drugs and social ills. - Bernama, July 4, 2013.

Child conversion law only affirms status quo, Muslim NGOs say
BY IDA LIM JULY 04, 2013

File photo shows two kids in Shah Alam, Selangor. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. --Reuters pic KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 – The unilateral conversion of minors to Islam has already been the “status quo” in Malaysian courtrooms, several Muslim groups alleged today, throwing a spanner in the works for Putrajaya as it struggles over the barrage of criticisms against its newly proposed law. Pembela – a coalition of around 20 Muslim NGOs – today fended off critics’ allegations that Section 107 (b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 is unconstitutional and had gone against a 2009 Cabinet decision. Pembela chairman Dr Yusri Mohamad said the dispensation with the need for consent from both parents on minors’ conversion has both been recognised by the Federal Court and been practised in the country. “Therefore Pembela urges all to understand Section 107 (b) as a firm status quo because it is supported by two highest authorities that are most relevant to this issue, that is religious authorities and also the courts,” Yusri told reporters this afternoon, insisting that the clause in the newly-tabled Bill had already existed in a 1993 legislation. Yusri said the Federal Court – the country’s supreme court – is a higher authority than the Cabinet. In 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, in an attempt to assuage concerns among religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the

years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia’s religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country. It also highlights the complications of Malaysia’s dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/child-conversion-law-onlyaffirms-status-quo-muslim-ngossay?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook#sthash.N1qxOrHl.dpuf

.

Appendixes

Appendix 1: The Cabinet decision putting an end to the conversion of children (April 2009)

IAIS chief says conversion of children to Islam ‘un-Islamic’ Posted on 23 April 2009 – 03:46am Print PETALING JAYA (April 22, 2009) : The conversion of children to Islam as part of divorce and custodial tussles is “un-Islamic”, says International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) founding chairman and CEO Mohammad Hashim Kamali. Dr Alwi (right) and Mohammad at the public lecture. “In my opinion, such ‘forced’ conversion is un-Islamic ... to use Islam in order to inflict or for purposes that are not part of the spirituality or aqidah of Islam, whether it is marriage, whether it is divorce or custody and there is a tussle between the wife and husband over the children does not make sense,” said Mohammad. “To go to the Syariah Court and claim that the child, who is two or three years old, has been converted to Islam, what does it mean? You convert a two-year-old child or five-year-old to Islam, it doesn’t really make sense when you look at this phenomena from the texts and guidelines of Islam,” he said. Mohammad said conversion to Islam was a conscious and deliberate act on the part of the individual requiring a comprehension of the decision made by the person converting. “(Conversion to Islam) calls for a profession in your words and an affirmation in your heart. Can you expect a child of five years (to have that). Most of these ‘forced conversions’ really arise over those issues (divorce and custodial battles) and I think we need to depart from that,” he said. “The child should grow up and be an adult, and be given the freedom to choose his or her religion. Before they reach the age of majority, any religion inflicted on the child is not really valid. A religion has to be embraced with a deliberate understanding by a competent person. Children are not competent,” added Mohammad, who called for a change to the current laws.

“... We need to add something to ensure it does not limit the freedom of the child when he or she becomes an adult.” “Islam protects non-Muslims when it comes to basic rights, and it does not differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims. It is for all,” added Mohammad, who responded to questions after a talk on Islamic extremism by former Indonesian foreign minister Dr Alwi Abdurrahman Shihab in the IAIS centre here yesterday. Alwi said such issues (conversions) were unknown in Indonesia. “I do not really see any such phenomenon (forced conversions) in Indonesia today. Muslims might sometimes raise complaints over the Christian missions, but today I think we are not very concerned over forced conversions. I do not know whether there are isolated incidents but we are proud to be a nation respectful to other faiths,” he said. Alwi then called on the media to report more objectively on Islamic matters to present a fairer picture of the religion. “The media likes to exaggerate and cover all kinds of protests and radicalism because this is the news. The moderate voices are not attractive to people. One person protesting the US at the embassy is considered good news for the media, but not 10 people trying to help others in an Islamic way.” The media is very important. “So, many moderate voices are not being covered by the media because this is not considered good news for commercial purposes. The ‘good news’ is what is against the norm,” said Alwi who cited the Indonesian situation. “The reality in Indonesia is that although people are worried about extremism and radicalism in Indonesia, the outcome of the Indonesian elections is that Islamic parties are not showing good results. “The secular parties are showing the best results and that is the objective condition of Indonesia. The radicals are not accepted by the Indonesian silent majority,” said Alwi. “The media always likes to exaggerate. So, talking about Indonesia, the radical Muslims are not gaining ground, because this is the will of the people,” he added.

Council of religions to appeal to rulers over ‘forced conversions’
Posted on 23 April 2009 – 02:45am Print KUALA LUMPUR (April 22, 2009): The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism is appealing to the Malay Rulers for “justice and fair-play” in cases of forced conversions. Vaithilingam and Indira at the press conference yesterday. Council president Datuk A.Vaithilingam told a press conference today that “we will go through the appropriate procedure by writing an appeal to the rulers to consider the plight of non-Muslims caught in controversial religious conversions and in the application of the Syariah court rules as well as the actions carried out by Islamic religious bodies on non-Muslims”. “The rulers are for all Malaysians and they are also the heads of Islam. It is an appeal to them,” he

said, adding that the council would also meet the committee of five ministers appointed to look into the plight of the alleged forceful conversion of M. Indira Gandhi’s three children by her convert husband. “We ask for solutions in two matters. That the baby be returned to the mother immediately and the committee finds a long-term solution in issues relating to conversions, custody of children, alimony and so on,” said Vaithilingam. He also stressed the council’s stand against conversion of any child aged below 18, unless with both parents’ consent. “In the case of a (non-Muslim) married couple with children, where one spouse converts, he or she has no right to convert the children until the civil court decides on divorce, custody and alimony. Because they were married under the Civil Marriages Act, the Syariah Court has no power over them,” he said. He also stressed that the council was not against Islam but questions the approach of the Syariah Court and Islamic religious officials in “controversial religious conversions”. “We also question the government’s promise of amending the family law. Stop assuring things and show some action. “Everyone is very sympathetic. There is no use being sympathetic if it is mere sympathy without action,” he added. “The government did show some concern and has formed a committee and we want a quick solution. They also agreed that the child should be returned but said the Syariah court order is there,” he said. Entangled in the latest tussle is the 34-year-old kindergarten teacher who said she was going through sleepless nights and was currently seeking refuge with a relative, fearing that Islamic officials would at any time take her children away. Two of her children Tevi Darsiny, 12, and Karan Dinesh, 11, are with her while her baby Prasana Diksa is with her husband, K.Pathmanathan or Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, 40. Ridzuan, who is believed to have converted on March 11 had converted the three children on April 12, where the two older children where converted in their absence using only their birth certificates. “I want my children back as Hindus and I plead that the government and authority take this matter seriously and provide a speedy remedy,” said Indira. “My children’s education is affected, they are scared to go to school afraid of harassment by religious officials,” she said, adding that they have not attended classes for three weeks. Indira, who wanted to transfer her children to a different school, could not do it because a Syariah Court order has been sent to the school stating the children’s conversion and their temporary custody with the father. Indira said she confirmed her children’s conversion after reading the court order from the school authority. She also expressed disappointment that the government had yet to approach her to help resolve the matter. “So far only non-governmental organisations and the Opposition (political parties) have approached me and extended help. I feel very let down,” said Indira.

She said the police failed to take any action despite numerous reports against her husband for assaulting her and her family members. Indira also revealed that she and her husband had been having a bitter relationship, pending a divorce suit she filed last December but matters worsened after his conversion. She said her husband resorted to such tactics for financial reasons. However, Ridzuan had denied all his wife’s charges and said he had never physically hurt her. He had also said that he converted the children without the wife’s permission because “a child has to follow the father’s religion”.

Child conversion issue settled
Posted on 24 April 2009 – 03:28am KUALA LUMPUR (April 23, 2009) : The Cabinet has decided that a child’s religion must be in accordance with the common religion at the time of marriage between the parents in the event that one of them opts to convert. In announcing the cabinet’s decision at a press conference today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said: “Conversion must not be used as a ground to automatically dissolve a marriage or to get custody of children.” He said any individual who wanted to convert to another religion must resolve all problems regarding his responsibilities before converting, to avoid innocent parties, especially the children, becoming victims. He said the cabinet also decided that if a marriage was done under the civil court, it could only be dissolved under the civil law. These were among the long-term solutions discussed by the Cabinet today in the wake of the latest case of Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah and his wife, M. Indira Gandhi, and several other similar cases before them. Mohd Ridzuan, 40, or Patmanathan a/l Krishnan, 40, a Muslim convert who used to be a Hindu, was reported to have converted his children – Tevi Darsiny, 12, Karan Dinesh, 11, and Prasana Diksa, 1 – to Islam on April 12 and applied for custody at the Syariah Court although their mother is still a Hindu. The baby is with Mohd Ridzuan, while the two older children are with his estranged wife, a kindergarten teacher. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism is helping Indira Gandhi solve the problem, and theSun had reported today that it

would write to the Malay Rulers for “justice and fair play” in this case. The cabinet had tasked five ministers to study the case and brief the cabinet yesterday. “Do not use religion, for instance Islam, as a tool to run away from responsibility or to escape from a marriage, as this will bring a bad name to the religion, “said Nazri: He said the Cabinet also agreed that the relevant date of application of the Islamic law to any Islam converts was the person’s conversion date. To give effect to the decision, the Attorney-General’s Chambers will be asked to look into all relevant laws that need to be amended, excluding the syariah law which are under the power of the rulers. In the case of Mohd Ridzuan and Indira Gandhi, Nazri said the minister in charge of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom will meet Mohd Ridzuan to counsel him. – Bernama

Consultative Council lauds Cabinet decision
Posted on 24 April 2009 – 06:46am The SUN PETALING JAYA (April 23, 2009) : The Cabinet decision putting an end to the conversion of children has been lauded by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism “The cabinet’s decision is most welcomed but it is a long way to go.” Said the body’s president Datuk A. Vaithilingam who appealed to Perak Syariah Court and Religious Department to accept the Cabinet decision positively and withdraw its decision and conversion of M Indira Gandhi’s three children. “We are still unsure if the decision is for immediate practice and whether it is valid for Indira’s children, but we hope the Perak Syariah Court and Religious department will abide by it as it is a more amicable decision. “ Vaithilingam told theSun in a telephone interview today. “We are very thankful to PM and DPM who had shown their concern on this matter and responded well,” Vaithilingam said., “Special thanks to Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon for his tireless effort in this matter. He contacted me everyday on this matter to update me the progress,” he said. “It is a good start for him as the minister in charge for national unity. At least it gives us hope that we are not let down,” said Vaithilingam, adding that he and Indira hopes to meet the committee to further discuss and solve the matter. “I am open to discussion with the AG and the Islamic groups so that we can have a dialogue on how better and concrete solutions can be achieved in overcoming such problems.”

Vaithilingam also said the council’s decision to appeal to rulers will be withheld temporarily because the Cabinet has given a positive response,adding that it will approach the rulers if and when it is necessary.

Draft law, Bar Council urges A-G
Posted on 27 April 2009 – 08:56pm
PETALING JAYA (April 26, 2009) : The Bar Council has welcomes the decision by the cabinet last week on the conversion of children.

“The Bar Council welcomes the decision, which is consistent with the position we took when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was the prime minister, said its Constitutional Law Committee chairman Edmund Bon. “And when there was a debate on recommendations for the Law Reform Bill, that was our suggestion – that the child continues in the religion of the marriage.” Bon told theSun such conversions should only be made by the children themselves when they were of a sufficient age to do so. “I think that it is right, and that it is consistent with past practices where there should be no compulsion to change the religion of a child because one parent converts to Islam,” he said. “Of course, if the child is of a mature age and is not subject to any duress or influence and is of sufficient maturity, international law provides that the child should have a say in the adoption of his or her own religion. “Under the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by Malaysia, the child should have a say in his or her religion of choice.” Bon called on the Attorney-General’s Chambers “to work to draft a law putting the cabinet decision into action’. “The attorney-general must draft the law to implement this policy, and clarify the constitution. The A-G must clarify and clear any doubts in the constitution as the Malay language version says that as long as one parent converts the child, it is sufficient. However, the English version says that the consent of both parents is needed. There is an ambiguity “Prior to this, the A-G took the view that only one parent was needed. But now, as the . But now, as the Cabinet has come up with this decision, the A-G must be consistent with this decision.

Let’s say no to child conversion
Posted on 29 April 2009 – 08:06pm

THE AUTHORITIES must step up efforts to ensure that an anguished and grieving Hindu mother is reunited with her one-year-old daughter. What they do may most certainly help demonstrate the caring attitude of the new government of Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak while at the same time show that it is ready to face the consequences for doing the right and just thing. The woman’s Hindu husband had not only converted to Islam after leaving her but had taken away from her the baby which he subsequently “converted to Islam”, whatever that means. Some religious officials must have abetted him in “converting” the baby without the consent of the mother. What he did was deplored by members of the Hindu community and other Malaysians, including prominent Muslim scholars. The government, mindful that the non-resolution of numerous high profile problems related to “conversion to Islam” was one of the reasons the BN government became unpopular, decided to act quickly. It decided that it must come up with a definite policy on conversions of minors to avert future problems while at the same time demonstrating its commitment to its recently articulated 1Malaysia principle and objective. Last week’s cabinet meeting decided that civil courts are the right place to dissolve a marriage in the event of a spouse converting to Islam because conversion does not dissolve the marriage. But most importantly it decided that children should follow the faith that the parents had agreed on at the time of their marriage. Because the decisions may run counter to certain legal and constitutional provisions the cabinet also directed the attorney general to propose amendments to them so as to prevent future complications whenever a spouse converted to Islam. While opposition to the cabinet decision is building up from the expected quarters more and more learned Muslims are also coming out to speak against the conversion of children to Islam or to any religion for that matter. It is hoped that everybody will look at the effort to resolve the problem as objectively and as dispassionately as possible. But most importantly in these days when politics seem to be the preoccupation of many Malaysians, politicians too should view the government’s decision as objectively and as dispassionately as possible. Whatever we do we must ensure that we are moving forward in our journey towards a truly multiracial Malaysia. And by resolving this problem we are taking one huge step forward. Let us help the government not to flip-flop on this one.

Meeting to iron out conversion issue soon: Jamil
Posted on 5 May 2009 – 02:09am KUALA LUMPUR (May 4, 2009) : A meeting involving several ministries and religious departments will be held soon to iron out issues regarding the religious status of a child when a parent converts to Islam, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Maj-Gen I Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom said. He said that the closed-door meeting might also involve religious associations. He said he would meet his colleagues in the prime minister’s department – Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz who is in charge of legal affairs and Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who is responsible for issues on racial relations – to get their opinion on the meeting. The ministries involved are the Human Resources, and Women, Family and Community

Development, he told reporters after opening the “Integrated Leadership: Issues and Challenges in the Public Service” seminar, at the National Institute of Public Administration here today. He was asked to comment on the cabinet’s decision pertaining to the religious status of a child, which sparked a debate among Malaysians. The Cabinet decided on April 22 that a child’s religion must be in accordance with the common religion at the time of marriage between the parents if the was any dispute regarding the issue.

M. BERNAMA

Ikim DG: Non-Muslim children cannot be arbitrarily converted to Islam
Posted on 12 June 2009 – 06:52am IPOH (June 11, 2009) : The call to Islam is a willing and conscious submission, hence it cannot be forced upon anybody, including the conversion of a child or minor to Islam. The director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Datuk Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas said this was because the ability to think and reason was a vital element for a non-Muslim to choose whether to become a Muslim. “A child who has not reached ‘umur baligh’ (age of maturity) cannot be burdened with the responsibility of accepting something he does not understand as his faculties of reason are still immature. “Therefore, it is unreasonable to say that one can simply convert a child,” he said in his keynote address titled “Crisis in Religious Thinking” at a discourse held at the Perak Institute of Islamic Administration, here today. He said a person who converted a child to Islam was actually forcing the child to accept the burden of responsibility when Allah did not command such a burden be placed on the child who had not reached the age of maturity. Syed Ali said conversion of a child to Islam also did not guarantee that he would remain a Muslim as the decision to accept and practise the religion depended on him alone. “The responsibility of a Muslim father is to educate his children on the religion and when they reach the age of maturity, they can make their choice,” he said. The Cabinet had in April decided that the children of a couple where one spouse had converted to Islam be raised in the religion the couple professed at the time of their marriage. The decision was made to resolve the I conversion issue with the latest case involving a man from Ipoh, K. Pathmanaban, a Muslim convert, who converted his three young children

to the religion without the consent of his wife who did not convert. –

BERNAMA

Nazri: Amendments to religious conversion will have to wait
Posted on 1 July 2009 – 03:56am KUALA LUMPUR (June 30, 2009): The amendments for the three religious conversion laws will need to wait indefinitely upon the request of the Conference of Rulers, announced Mininster in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today. Speaking to reporters at the parliament lobby, Nazri said the Conference of Rulers had requested more time to study the cabinet’s decision before giving the green light to amend the laws. The cabinet had decided on April 22 that children are allowed to maintain their religion from the time their parents were married even one of them converted into other religion later so that it will not be used as an excuse to get custody of the children. The cabinet had also decided that any adult who wishes to convert religion must ensure that issues remaining are solved between the spouses. Nazri, who tabled the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Islamic Family (Federal Territories) Law 1984 and Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Islamic Law 1993 for amendments, said the Rulers had “far-reaching” implications over the amendments of the laws and since the laws are related to Islam, the consent of the Rulers must first be obtained and that he has no idea as to when a decision will be made by the Rulers. “I am unable to hand out the bills to the MPs out of respect for the Rulers have yet to agree on the amendments. “We have started preparing for the amendments since 2006 and the Attorney-General has worked very hard for it. The government is prepared (for the amendments) and I am quite disappointed with the outcome as we still could not do it now,” he said.

Banggarma sues to declare conversion unlawful
Posted on 24 December 2009 – 02:46am

GEORGE TOWN (Dec 23, 2009) : S. Banggarma, 27, who claims to have been illegally converted to Islam while at a government welfare home about 20 years ago, today took legal action to declare her conversion unlawful. Banggarma, whose identity card carries the name Siti Hasnah Vangarama binti Abdullah, is seeking a court declaration that the conversion process was unlawful as she was then a child, and that the conversion certificate is “ineffective, null and void ab initio”. In a civil suit filed at the Penang High Court today, she is also seeking to have the name on her IC changed to her Hindu one, and for the designation ‘Islam’ to be deleted from the card. Named as defendants in her suit were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as president of the Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (Perkim), then Perkim official Raimi Abdullah, the Penang Islamic Council (MAIPP) and the Penang City Kadi (Islamic judge). The suit does not seek any monetary compensation. Banggarma who was accompanied by her husband, fisherman S. Sockalingam, 31, and their two children S. Kanagaraj, 8, and S. Hisyanthini, 2, and some supporters, later performed a Hindu ritual of smashing a coconut in front of the court house, to invoke blessings. In her affidavit, Banggarma said she was taken by Raimi and Muballigh officials from the MAIPP, to the Kadi to be converted into a Muslim on Dec 28, 1989 where she was then instructed by the Kadi to take the affirmation of faith, the ‘Kalimah Syahadah’ in their presence. She stressed that she did not and could not have, at that time, understood the contents and meaning of the words in the Declaration to Convert into Islam certificate which she was asked to recite, utter and execute. “As a child of merely seven years of age, I did not have any choice except to obey the directions given by the defendants to take the affirmation of oath,” she said. She said she was ignorant that her conversion process was defective and bad in law, and that she could legally challenge it, until she had been advised about it by her solicitor. “Banggarma is seeking the court’s assistance to solve her predicament of having been unlawfully converted into Islam when she was seven years old, so that she may be able to live her life and practise her Hindu faith freely and openly,” said her lawyer Gooi Hsiao Leung in a statement. Gooi said the decision was made after the MAIPP had been unhelpful when approached. “Even more worrying is that the fact that after Banggarma’s case was highlighted, the police went to Banggarma’s home looking for her without giving any reasons whatsoever,” he added. “We are concerned about Banggarma’s safety and we call upon the authorities to show restraint and not to harass our client, pending this legal action,” he added.

Teacher gets leave to quash conversion of her children
Posted on 28 July 2010 – 11:32pm IPOH (July 28, 2010): The High Court has granted a kindergarten teacher’s application for a judicial review to quash her three children’s conversion to Islam.

Administration of the Religion of Islam 1 (Federal Territories) M. Indira Gandhi, who has been granted custody of the children – Tevi Darsiny (Ummu Salamah), 13, Karan Dinish (Abu Bakar), 12, and Prasana Diksa, 2, last March, is seeking to quash her children’s conversion to Islam by her former husband, Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, without her consent. Justice Zainal Adzam Abdul Ghani handed down the decision in chambers today in the presence of Indira Gandhi’s lawyers, M.Kulasegaran, N. Selvam and Chong Xian Ci. Kulasegaran, when met by reporters later, said they would submit the judicial review in 14 days. In her application for leave to file the judicial review, Indira Gandhi had named six respondents. They are the Perak registrar of converts, the Perak Islamic Religious Department (JAIP), the Perak state government, the Education Ministry, the Malaysian government, and her estranged husband, K. Pathmanathan (now known as Mohd Ridzuan). On April 24 2009, the High court had allowed an ex-parte application by Indira Gandhi to get temporary custody of her three children and also an injunction to prevent her ex-husband from entering their home. However, on May 5 2009, the court granted Mohd Ridzuan a stay of its earlier order, leaving the situation to return to status quo with the father having custody of the youngest child and Indira Gandhi of the elder two children. On Oct 29 2009, the Syariah court granted Mohd Ridzuan custody of all three children. However, on March 11 this year, Indira Gandhi was granted custody of their youngest child, which led to Mohd Ridzuan to file an application for a stay of the order, but his bid failed when the High Court set aside the application last April 1. This case drew wide attention because of the conflicting powers of the Syariah and Civil courts where it came to custody of children when one of the spouses converted to Islam. – Bernama

Appendix 2 ADMINISTRATION OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM (FEDERAL TERRITORIES) BILL 2013
ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES P ART I
PRELIMINARY Clause

1. 2. 3.

Short title, application and commencement Interpretation Saving of prerogative P ART II
THE MAJLIS AGAMA ISLAM WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Establishment of the Majlis Legal identity and general powers of the Majlis The Majlis shall aid and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong The duty of the Majlis for the economic and social development of Muslims Power to establish companies Power to borrow Membership of the Majlis Termination of appointment Revocation of appointment Publication of appointment, and termination and revocation of appointment, in the Gazette Control by the Chairman Secretary of the Majlis Attendance of non-members at meetings of the Majlis Presiding over meetings Quorum Conduct of business Summoning of meetings

2
Clause

Bill
21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. Minutes of the meeting Order of business at meeting Certified copies of resolution Application for leave by the Chairman and other members Action in cases of urgency Committees Delegation of duties or powers of the Majlis Appointment of Chief Executive Officer Appointment of officers and servants of the Majlis Secrecy Public servant Majlis may determine its own procedure P ART III
THE MUFTI, THE FATWA COMMITTEE AND FATWA RELATING TO MATTER AFFECTING NATIONAL INTEREST

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

Appointment of Mufti and Deputy Mufti Functions of the Mufti Fatwa Committee Power of the Fatwa Committee to make a fatwa Procedure in making a fatwa A fatwa published in the Gazette is binding Amendment, modification or revocation of fatwa Fatwa relating to matters affecting national interest Adoption of advice and recommendation of National Fatwa Committee Request for opinion of Fatwa Committee Qaul muktamad to be followed P ART IV
SYARIAH COURTS AND SYARIAH APPEAL COURT

44. 45.

Establishment of Syariah Courts and Syariah Appeal Court Appointment of Chief Syariah Judge

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)
Clause

3

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67.

Appointment of Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court Appointment of Judges of the Syariah High Court Appointment of Judges of Syariah Subordinate Courts Code of ethics of Syariah Judges and Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court Chief Registrar, Registrars, Deputy Registrars and Assistant Registrars Jurisdiction of Syariah High Court Jurisdiction of Syariah Subordinate Court Appeals to Syariah High Court Application for leave to appeal Inheritance certificates Supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction of Syariah High Court Jurisdiction of Syariah Appeal Court Supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction of Syariah Appeal Court Composition of Syariah Appeal Court Decision of Syariah Appeal Court shall be by the majority Continuation of proceedings in Syariah Appeal Court notwithstanding absence of Judge Open court Language Reciprocal action Protection of Judges, Court officials, etc. Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts Practice Directions

P ART V
PROSECUTION AND REPRESENTATION

68. 69. 70.

Chief Syariah Prosecutor and Syariah Prosecutors Chief Religious Enforcement Officer and Religious Enforcement Officer Peguam Syarie

4

Bill
P ART VI
FINANCIAL PROVISIONS Baitulmal and financial procedure of the Majlis Clause

71. 72. 73. 74. 75.

Establishment of Baitulmal Estimates of income and expenditure Expenses of the Majlis Bank accounts Accounts and annual reports

Zakat and fitrah

76. 77. 78.

Power of Majlis to collect and distribute zakat and fitrah Power to make regulations Appeal

Wakaf, nazar and trust

79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85.

Majlis to be sole trustee of wakaf, nazar and trust Vesting of wakaf, nazar and trust property in Majlis Restriction on creation of charitable trusts Income from wakaf and nazar Capital of wakaf and nazar Construction of instruments on wakaf or nazar Publication of list of wakaf, nazar and trust property

Charitable collections

86.

Charitable collections P ART VII
MOSQUES

87. 88.

Majlis to be sole trustee of mosques and related land Restriction on establishment of mosques and penalty

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)
Clause

5

89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96.

Establishment of mosques Maintenance of mosque and their compounds Appointment of Pegawai Masjid Tauliah of Pegawai Masjid Tenure of office of Pegawai Masjid Control and direction of Pegawai Masjid Jawatankuasa Kariah Exemption of mosques

P ART VIII
CONVERSION TO THE RELIGION OF ISLAM

97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107.

Requirements for conversion to the religion of Islam Moment of conversion to the religion of Islam Duties and obligations of mualaf Appointment of Chief Registrar of Mualafs and Registrars of Mualafs Registration of mualaf Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam Recognition of mualaf as a Muslim Determination whether a non-registered person is a mualaf Offence of giving false information Power to make regulations Capacity to convert to the religion of Islam P ART IX
ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

108. 109. 110. 111.

Islamic Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee Offence of teaching the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam without a tauliah Islamic religious schools Exemption

6

Bill
P ART X
GENERAL Clause

112. 113.

General power to make regulations Hukum Syarak P ART XI
REPEAL, SAVINGS AND TRANSITIONAL

114. 115. 116.

Repeal Savings and transitional Continuance of civil and criminal proceedings SCHEDULE

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) A BILL

7

intituled

An Act to make new provisions on the administration of the religion of Islam, the establishment and jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts, the establishment and functions of the Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan and other matters related thereto.

[

]

ENACTED by the Parliament of Malaysia as follows: P ART I
PRELIMINARY

Short title, application and commencement 1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Act 2013. (2) This Act applies only to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya. (3) This Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by notification in the Gazette; and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may appoint different dates for the coming into operation of different provisions of this Act.

8 Interpretation

Bill

2. (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— “previous Act” means the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 [ Act 505 ]; “ anak kariah ” means a person who permanently lives or habitually resides in a kariah masjid ; “Baitulmal ” means the fund established under section 71; “Judge” or “Syariah Judge” means a Judge of the Syariah High Court or the Syariah Subordinate Court, as the case may be, appointed under subsection 47(1) or 48(1); “Judge of the Syariah Appeal Court” means a Judge of the Syariah Appeal Court appointed under subsection 46(1); “Hukum Syarak” means Hukum Syarak according to Mazhab Shafie, or any one of Mazhab Hanafi , Maliki , or Hanbali ; “Fatwa Committee” means the Fatwa Committee established under section 35; “National Fatwa Committee” means the National Fatwa Committee established by the Conference of Rulers under regulation 11 of the Regulations of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia; “Jawatankuasa Kariah” means a Jawatankuasa Kariah established by regulations made under section 95; “kariah masjid ”, in relation to a mosque, means the area in which a mosque is situated; “Chief Syariah Judge” means the Chief Syariah Judge appointed under subsection 45(1); “Chief Executive Officer” means the Chief Executive Officer of the Majlis appointed under subsection 28(1);

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

9

“Chief Religious Enforcement Officer” means the officer appointed as Chief Religious Enforcement Officer under subsection 69(1); “Chief Syariah Prosecutor” means the officer appointed as Chief Syariah Prosecutor under subsection 68(1); “Court” means the Syariah Subordinate Court or the Syariah High Court, as the case may be, constituted under subsection 44(1) or (2); “Syariah Appeal Court” means the Syariah Appeal Court constituted under subsection 44(3); “Civil Court” means any court established under Article 121 of the Federal Constitution; “Syariah Court” means the Syariah Subordinate Court or the Syariah High Court, as the case may be, constituted under subsection 44(1) or (2); “Majlis” means the Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan established under subsection 4(1); “previous Majlis” means the Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan established under the previous Act; “mosque” means a building– (a) used for Friday prayers and other prayers and activities which are enjoined, recommended or approved by the religion of Islam; and (b) the use of which as such is permitted by the Majlis under section 89, and includes any surau , madrasah or other building prescribed by the Majlis as a mosque under that section; “Minister” means the Minister responsible for the administration of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories;

10

Bill

“mualaf ” means a person who has converted to the religion of Islam referred to in section 98; “Mufti” means a person who is appointed to be the Mufti for the Federal Territories under subsection 33(1), and includes the Deputy Mufti; “nazar ” means an expressed vow to do an act for any purpose permitted by Hukum Syarak; “nazar am” means a nazar intended wholly or in part for the benefit of the Muslim community generally or any section of the Muslim community, and not for individual or individuals; “State” includes the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya; “Muslim” means a person who professes the religion of Islam and includes— (a) a person either or both of whose parents were, at the time of the person’s birth, Muslims; (b) a person whose upbringing was conducted on the basis that he was a Muslim; (c) a person who has converted to Islam in accordance with the requirements of section 97; (d) a person who is commonly reputed to be a Muslim; or (e) a person who is shown to have stated, in circumstances in which he was bound by law to state the truth, that he was a Muslim, whether the statement be oral or written; “Pegawai Masjid” means the Imam, Imam Ratib, Bilal, Pembantu Bilal or any person who holds a post with any name, style or title as may be given from time to time by the Majlis relating to the administration of a mosque; “Religious Enforcement Officer” means the officer appointed as a Religious Enforcement Officer under subsection 69(1); “Peguam Syarie” means a person who has been admitted as a Peguam Syarie under section 70;

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

11

“Syariah Prosecutor” means an officer appointed under subsection 68(3); “Chairman” means the Chairman of the Majlis appointed under section 10; “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Majlis referred to in subsection 15(1); “wakaf ” means— (a) an endowment of title to any property from which any benefit, profit or interest may be enjoyed; (b) an endowment of any benefit, profit or interest which may be enjoyed from any property; or (c) the provision of expertise and services from which any benefit, profit or interest may be enjoyed, whether as wakaf am or wakaf khas in accordance with Hukum Syarak but does not include a trust as defined under the Trustee Act 1949 [ Act 208 ]; “wakaf am” means any wakaf which is created for general welfare and charitable purpose in accordance with Hukum Syarak; “wakaf khas ” means any wakaf which is created for a specific purpose whether determined by the waqif or the Majlis and shall be in accordance with Hukum Syarak; “waqif ” means a person who creates a wakaf . (2) All words and expressions used in this Act and not defined in this Act but defined in Part I of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 [ Act 388 ] shall have the meanings assigned to them respectively in that Part to the extent that such meanings do not conflict with Hukum Syarak. (3) For the avoidance of doubt as to the identity or interpretation of the words and expressions used in this Act that are listed in the Schedule, reference may be made to the Arabic script for those words and expressions as shown against them in the Schedule.

12 Saving of prerogative

Bill

3. Save as expressly provided in this Act, nothing contained in this Act, shall derogate from or affect the rights and powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of the Religion of Islam in the Federal Territories as declared and set forth in the Federal Constitution. P ART II
THE MAJLIS AGAMA ISLAM WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN

Establishment of the Majlis 4. (1) A body known as the “Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan” is established to aid and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam. (2) The Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan established by virtue of the previous Act immediately before the commencement of this section shall, on the commencement of this section, be deemed to be the Majlis established under subsection (1). Legal identity and general powers of the Majlis 5. (1) The Majlis shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal which shall bear such device as the Majlis shall approve and the seal may, from time to time, be broken, changed, altered or made anew as the Majlis may think fit, and, until the seal is provided by the Majlis, the seal of the previous Majlis may be used as the common seal of the Majlis. (2) The Majlis may sue and be sued in its corporate name. (3) Subject to and for the purposes of this Act, the Majlis may, upon such terms as it deems fit in accordance with Hukum Syarak— (a) enter into contracts; and

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

13

(b) in respect of movable and immovable property and interest in movable and immovable property of every description— (i) acquire, purchase and take such property and interest; and (ii) hold, enjoy, convey, assign, surrender, yield up, charge, mortgage, demise, reassign, transfer or otherwise dispose of, or deal with, such property and any interest in the property vested in the Majlis. (4) The Majlis shall have power to act as an executor of a will or as an administrator of the estate of a deceased person or as a trustee of any trust. (5) The Majlis shall have such further powers and carry out such duties as may be assigned to it by this Act or by any other Act.

The Majlis shall aid and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong 6. The Majlis shall aid and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in respect of all matters relating to the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories, except matters of Hukum Syarak and those relating to the administration of justice, and in all such matters shall be the chief authority in the Federal Territories after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, except where otherwise provided in this Act.

The duty of the Majlis for the economic and social development of Muslims 7. (1) It shall be the duty of the Majlis to promote, stimulate, facilitate and undertake the economic and social development of the Muslim community in the Federal Territories consistent with Hukum Syarak.

14

Bill

(2) For the purposes of discharging its duty under subsection (1), the Majlis shall have power— (a) to carry on all activities which does not involve any element which is not approved by the religion of Islam, particularly the development of commercial and industrial enterprises, the carrying on of which appears to the Majlis to be requisite, advantageous or convenient for or in connection with the discharge of such duty, including the manufacturing, assembling, processing, packing, grading and marketing of products; (b) to promote the carrying on of any such activities by other bodies or persons, and for that purpose to establish or expand, or promote the establishment or expansion, of other bodies to carry on any such activities either under the control or partial control of the Majlis or independently, and to give assistance to other bodies or persons appearing to the Majlis to have the facilities for the carrying on of any such activities, including the giving of financial assistance by way of loan or otherwise; (c) to carry on any such activities in association with other bodies or persons, including the departments or authorities of the Federal Government or the State Government, or as managing agent or otherwise on behalf of the Federal Government; (d) to invest in any authorized investment as defined by the Trustee Act 1949, and to dispose of the investment on such terms and conditions as the Majlis may determine; (e) to establish any scheme for the granting of loans from the Baitulmal to Muslim individuals for the purpose of higher education; (f) to establish, maintain and control Islamic schools, Islamic teaching institutions and Islamic training and research institutions; (g) to establish, maintain and manage welfare home, shelter and rehabilitation centre; and (h) to do such acts as the Majlis considers desirable or expedient.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Power to establish companies

15

8. (1) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, establish companies under the Companies Act 1965 [ Act 125 ] to carry on any activity by the Majlis in the execution of its duties and powers under section 7. (2) Every company established or purported to be established by the Majlis under the Companies Act 1965 immediately before the commencement of this section, shall, on the commencement of this section, be deemed to have been lawfully established and shall continue to exist as if it had been established by the Majlis under subsection (1). (3) Any financing or financial assistance given by the Majlis to a company referred to in subsection (2) shall be deemed to have been lawfully given under subsection 7(2). Power to borrow 9. (1) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Minister of Finance and on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Minister of Finance, borrow such sums as it may require for discharging any of its functions under this Act. (2) Sums borrowed by virtue of subsection (1) shall be paid into the Baitulmal . Membership of the Majlis 10. (1) The Majlis shall consist of the following members: (a) a Chairman, who shall be appointed by the Yang d i -P ert u an Ago n g o n t h e ad v i ce o f t h e P ri m e Minister; (b) the Director General of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia as Deputy Chairman; (c) the Chief Secretary to the Government or his representative; (d) the Attorney General or his representative;

16 (e) the Mufti;

Bill

(f) the Chief Police Officer of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur or his representative; (g) the Commissioner of the City of Kuala Lumpur or his representative; and (h) not more than eighteen other members who shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Minister, at least six of whom shall be persons who are learned in Hukum Syarak. (2) The members of the Majlis appointed under paragraphs (1)(a) and (h) shall hold office for a period not exceeding three years. (3) A member of the Majlis whose term of office has expired is eligible to be reappointed. (4) If the person holding the appointment specified in paragraph (1)(c), (d), (f) or (g) is not a Muslim, his representative shall be a Muslim and shall be a member in place of that person. (5) Every person who, immediately before the commencement of this section was appointed as the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and members of the previous Majlis shall, on the commencement of this section and subject to this Act, continue to be the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and members of the Majlis respectively until the expiry of their term of appointment. Termination of appointment 11. The appointment of an appointed member of the Majlis shall terminate— (a) on his death; (b) if he resigns his office by letter addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong through the Chairman, or in the case of the Chairman, by letter addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong through the Minister; or (c) if he has been absent from Malaysia, without the written permission of the Chairman, for a period exceeding six months.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Revocation of appointment

17

12. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Minister, revoke the appointment of any appointed member of the Majlis if– (a) his conduct, whether in connection with his duties as a member or otherwise, has been such as to bring discredit to the Majlis; (b) he has become incapable of properly carrying out his duties as a member of the Majlis; (c) he has been absent from three consecutive meetings of the Majlis without any excuse which is sufficient in the opinion of the Chairman or, in the case of the Chairman, without leave of the Minister; (d) he has acted contrary to the interest of the Majlis; or (e) he is a bankrupt.

Publication of appointment, and termination and revocation of appointment, in the Gazette 13. The appointment under section 10, and termination and revocation of appointment under sections 11 and 12, shall be published in the Gazette.

Control by the Chairman 14. The Chairman shall exercise control over all deliberations and proceedings of the Majlis and shall be responsible for the proper and orderly conduct thereof.

Secretary of the Majlis 15. (1) The Director of the Islamic Religious Department of the Federal Territories shall be the Secretary of the Majlis.

18

Bill

(2) Subject to such directions as may be given to him by the Chairman, the Secretary shall have charge of all correspondence and documents of the Majlis, and shall in all other respects carry out such duties as may be imposed upon him by this Act or assigned to him by the Chairman. (3) The Secretary is entitled to attend all meetings of the Majlis and to participate in its deliberations, but is not entitled to vote. Attendance of non-members at meetings of the Majlis 16. (1) If a member of the Majlis under paragraph 10(1)(c), (d), (e), (f), (g) or subsection 10(4) is unable to attend any meeting of the Majlis, the member may be represented by another Muslim officer in the same Department at the meeting. (2) The Chairman may invite any person who is not a member of the Majlis to attend any meeting of the Majlis if the business before the meeting makes the presence of the person desirable. (3) A representative of a member referred to under subsection (1) and a person invited under subsection (2) is entitled to participate in the deliberations of the Majlis but is not entitled to vote. Presiding over meetings 17. (1) The Chairman, or in his absence, the Deputy Chairman, shall preside over all meetings of the Majlis. (2) If the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman are absent from a meeting, the members present shall elect one of the members to preside over the meeting. Quorum 18. No business, except that of adjournment, shall be transacted at a meeting, and no resolution or action of the Majlis made or performed at a meeting shall be valid, unless at least one-third of the members, including the person presiding over the meeting, are present at the meeting.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Conduct of business

19

19. (1) Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, all business of the Majlis shall be conducted in a meeting of the Majlis regularly convened and shall be disposed of by the resolution of the majority of the members present and entitled to vote. (2) A resolution in writing signed by all members of the Majlis shall, unless in any special case or class of cases the Yang di-Pertuan Agong otherwise directs, have the same effect as a resolution duly passed under subsection (1). Summoning of meetings 20. (1) Meetings of the Majlis shall be held with such regularity that not more than three calendar months shall have elapsed between one meeting and the next. (2) All meetings of the Majlis shall be summoned by the Secretary. (3) The Chairman may, at any time, direct the Secretary to summon a meeting. (4) Any four members of the Majlis may at any time in writing require the Secretary to summon a meeting of the Majlis on condition that they inform the Secretary the purpose for which they desire the meeting to be summoned. (5) The Secretary shall summon a meeting within fourteen days from the date of receipt of the direction under subsection (3) or the requirement under subsection (4). (6) At least seven days’ notice in writing shall be given of any meeting, but the Chairman may, if he considers that there is urgent need to summon a meeting at shorter notice, direct that the requirement of seven days’ notice be dispensed with. (7) Notice of a meeting may be sent by post, facsimile or e-mail.

20

Bill

(8) A notice sent to a member of the Majlis by post shall be addressed to his last-known place of residence and shall be deemed to have been served in the due course of post. (9) A notice sent to a member of the Majlis by facsimile shall be sent to the facsimile number given by the member in writing to the Secretary and shall be deemed to have been received by the member when the call back code is received by the Secretary. (10) A notice sent to a member of the Majlis by e-mail shall be sent to the e-mail address of the member given to the Secretary in writing and shall be deemed to have been received by the member— (a) if the relevant e-mail administrator informs that the e-mail has been successfully delivered; or (b) if there is no information from the e-mail administrator that the e-mail has not been successfully delivered. (11) No notice of a meeting shall be necessary in the case of a member of the Majlis who is for the time being outside Malaysia. Minutes of the meeting 21. (1) The Secretary shall keep the minutes of all meetings of the Majlis. (2) Subject to subsection (4), the minutes of the previous meeting shall be read and confirmed, subject to any amendment which may be required, at every meeting. (3) The minutes shall be entered in the minute book of the Majlis and shall contain a full verbatim record of every resolution made by the Majlis. (4) Before the minutes of the previous meeting is read and confirmed in every meeting under subsection (2), a copy of the draft minutes shall be sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent as soon as possible to be done after each of the meeting in relation to the draft of the minutes; and if on confirmation the draft minutes are amended, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall forthwith be informed of the amendments made.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

21

(5) No decision made in any meeting of the Majlis shall be acted upon until the minutes of the meeting have been confirmed or, if action is required to be taken before the minutes have been confirmed, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has signified his assent in writing for the action to be taken. Order of business at meeting 22. (1) The Chairman shall determine the order of business at meetings. (2) The Chairman may determine in what order the members of the Majlis may address the meeting and may at any time require any member to cease addressing the meeting. (3) The Chairman shall have a casting vote if there is an equality of votes on any resolution. Certified copies of resolution 23. A copy of any resolution of the Majlis certified by the Secretary to be a true copy of the resolution shall be sufficient evidence thereof, and all courts shall take judicial notice of the resolution without proof of the Secretary’s signature. Application for leave by the Chairman and other members 24. (1) If the Chairman expects to be absent from Malaysia for a period of more than thirty days, he shall apply for leave from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may give such directions as he thinks fit. (2) If any member of the Majlis expects to be absent from Malaysia for more than thirty days, he shall apply for leave from the Chairman. Action in cases of urgency 25. (1) In any case of urgency, the Chairman may do or direct to be done on behalf of the Majlis any act or thing that may lawfully be done by resolution of the Majlis.

22

Bill

(2) If any act or thing is done pursuant to subsection (1), a meeting of the Majlis shall be held within seven days thereafter for the purpose of confirming the act or thing done; and if the Majlis declines to confirm the act or thing done, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may issue any direction with respect thereto as he thinks fit. Committees 26. The Majlis may appoint any committee to assist it in the discharge of its duties or exercise of its powers. Delegation of duties or powers of the Majlis 27. (1) The Majlis may, by resolution, and subject to conditions and restrictions as the Majlis thinks fit, delegate the discharge of any of its duties or the exercise of any of its powers to the Chairman, the Secretary or any committee of the Majlis. (2) The discharge of duties and exercise of powers in pursuance of a delegation under subsection (1) shall be subject to the control and direction of the Majlis. (3) The Chairman, the Secretary or committee to whom or to which a delegation is made under subsection (1) shall inform the Majlis of all acts and things done by him or it in pursuance of such delegation. Appointment of Chief Executive Officer 28. (1) The Majlis shall appoint a Chief Executive Officer of the Majlis amongst the officers in the general public service of the Federation on such terms and conditions as the Majlis thinks desirable. (2) The Chief Executive Officer shall— (a) be responsible in assisting the Secretary in carrying out the policies and resolutions of the Majlis;

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

23

(b) have the general control of the officers and servants of the Majlis; and (c) be responsible for any directions of the Majlis from time to time.

Appointment of officers and servants of the Majlis 29. (1) The Majlis may appoint or employ such number of officers and servants as may be necessary to assist it in carrying out its functions. (2) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations with respect to the conditions of service of its officers and servants.

Secrecy 30. The proceedings of the Majlis shall be kept secret and no member of the Majlis, including his representative referred to in section 16, officer and servant of the Majlis, and person invited to a meeting of the Majlis, shall disclose any matter that has arisen at any meeting of the Majlis to any person other than the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Minister or any member of the Majlis unless he is expressly authorized by the Majlis.

Public servant 31. Every member, officer and servant of the Majlis shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of the Penal Code [ Act 574 ].

Majlis may determine its own procedure 32. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the Majlis may determine its own procedure and practice.

24

Bill P ART III

THE MUFTI, THE FATWA COMMITTEE AND FATWA RELATING TO MATTER AFFECTING NATIONAL INTEREST

Appointment of Mufti and Deputy Mufti 33. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of the Minister, after consulting the Majlis, may appoint any fit and proper person to be the Mufti and Deputy Mufti for the Federal Territories. (2) The appointment of the Mufti and Deputy Mufti shall be published in the Gazette. (3) The persons who, immediately before the commencement of this section, were the Mufti and Deputy Mufti for the Federal Territories under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, be deemed to have been duly appointed under this section and shall continue to hold office as such. Functions of the Mufti 34. The Mufti shall aid and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in respect of all matters of Hukum Syarak, and in all such matters shall be the chief authority in the Federal Territories after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, except where otherwise provided in this Act. Fatwa Committee 35. (1) A committee known as the Fatwa Committee is established. (2) The Fatwa Committee shall consist of— (a) the Mufti, as Chairman; (b) the Deputy Mufti; (c) two members of the Majlis nominated by the Majlis; (d) not less than two and not more than seven fit and proper persons appointed by the Majlis; and

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

25

(e) an officer from the Department of Mufti appointed by the Majlis, as Secretary. (3) The persons who, immediately before the commencement of this section, were appointed or nominated as members of the Islamic Legal Consultative Committee established under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section and subject to this Act, be deemed to have been appointed or nominated under this section and shall continue to be members of the Fatwa Committee until the expiry of their terms of appointment under the previous Act. (4) Subject to this Act, the Fatwa Committee may determine its own procedure and practice. Power of the Fatwa Committee to make a fatwa 36. Subject to section 40, the Fatwa Committee shall, on the direction of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and may on its own initiative or on the request of any person by letter addressed to the Mufti, make a fatwa on any unsettled or controversial question relating to Hukum Syarak. Procedure in making a fatwa 37. (1) Before the Fatwa Committee makes a fatwa , the Mufti may cause any study or research to be carried out as directed by him and a working paper to be prepared. (2) Whenever the Fatwa Committee proposes to make a fatwa , the Mufti shall call a meeting of the Fatwa Committee for the purpose of discussing the proposed fatwa . (3) After a fatwa is made by the Fatwa Committee, the Mufti shall, on behalf and in the name of the Fatwa Committee, make a recommendation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent for the publication of the fatwa in the Gazette. (4) When a fatwa has been assented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Mufti shall inform the Majlis about the fatwa and thereafter shall cause the fatwa to be published in the Gazette.

26

Bill

(5) A fatwa published in the Gazette shall be accompanied by a statement that the fatwa is made under this section. (6) A fatwa shall be published in the national language in the Rumi script, but the text of the fatwa in the Jawi script may also be published. (7) Any statement made by the Fatwa Committee shall not be taken to be a fatwa unless such statement is published in the Gazette in accordance with subsection (4). A fatwa published in the Gazette is binding 38. (1) Upon its publication in the Gazette, a fatwa shall be binding on every Muslim in the Federal Territories as a dictate of his religion and it shall be his religious duty to abide by and uphold the fatwa unless he is permitted by Hukum Syarak to depart from the fatwa in matters of personal observance, belief or opinion. (2) A fatwa shall be recognised by all courts in the Federal Territories of all matters laid down therein. Amendment, modification or revocation of fatwa 39. (1) The Fatwa Committee may amend, modify or revoke any fatwa that has been published in the Gazette under this Act or under the previous Act. (2) An amendment, modification or revocation of a fatwa shall be deemed to be a fatwa and section 37, except subsection 37(5), shall apply thereto. (3) An amendment, modification or revocation of a fatwa published in the Gazette shall be accompanied by a statement that the fatwa is made under subsection (1). Fatwa relating to matters affecting national interest 40. (1) Notwithstanding the powers of the Fatwa Committee under section 36, whenever it appears to the Fatwa Committee

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

27

that a fatwa proposed to be made is related to matters affecting national interest, the Fatwa Committee shall adjourn the proposed fatwa and make a recommendation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent to refer the proposed fatwa to the National Fatwa Committee, through the Conference of Rulers. (2) A fatwa shall be deemed to be related to matters affecting national interest if the question is related to any matter, policy, programme or activity which directly affects the interest of the Federal Government, a State Government or any of its ministries, departments or agencies. (3) If the Yang di-Pertuan Agong gives his assent under subsection (1), the Fatwa Committee shall refer the fatwa to the National Fatwa Committee, through the Conference of Rulers. (4) If the National Fatwa Committee advises or recommends that— (a) the proposed fatwa be made, with or without any modification; or (b) another fatwa on the same matter be made, and the Conference of Rulers have agreed with the advice and recommendation of the National Fatwa Committee, the Fatwa Committee shall cause the fatwa according to such advice and recommendation to be published in the Gazette without any amendment or modification and the provision of section 37, except subsection 37(5), shall apply thereto. (5) A fatwa published in the Gazette shall be accompanied by a statement that the fatwa is made under this section. Adoption of advice and recommendation of National Fatwa Committee 41. (1) The Fatwa Committee shall adopt any advice and recommendation of the National Fatwa Committee which affects any act or observance which has been agreed upon by the Conference of Rulers as an act or observance which extends to the Federation as a whole pursuant to paragraph (b) of Clause (2) of Article 38 of the Federal Constitution.

28

Bill

(2) The advice or recommendation adopted by virtue of subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a fatwa and section 37, except subsection 37(5), shall apply thereto. (3) A fatwa published in the Gazette shall be accompanied by a statement that the fatwa is made under this section.

Request for opinion of Fatwa Committee 42. The Mufti shall not be liable to be summoned to any Civil Court or Syariah Court to give opinion or evidence relating to Hukum Syarak, but if in any court other than a Syariah Court, any question on Hukum Syarak calls for a decision, the court may request for the opinion of the Fatwa Committee on the question, and the Mufti may certify the opinion of the Fatwa Committee to the requesting court.

Qaul muktamad to be followed 43. (1) In issuing any fatwa under section 37, or giving any opinion under section 42, the Fatwa Committee shall ordinarily follow qaul muktamad (the accepted views) of the Mazhab Syafie. (2) If the Fatwa Committee is of the opinion that following the qaul muktamad of the Mazhab Syafie will lead to a situation which is repugnant to public interest, the Fatwa Committee may follow the qaul muktamad of the Mazhab Hanafi, Maliki or Hanbali . (3) If the Fatwa Committee is of the opinion that none of the qaul muktamad of the four Mazhabs may be followed without leading to a situation which is repugnant to public interest, the Fatwa Committee may make the fatwa according to ijtihad without being bound by the qaul muktamad of any of the four Mazhabs .

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) P ART IV
SYARIAH COURTS AND SYARIAH APPEAL COURT

29

Establishment of Syariah Courts and Syariah Appeal Court 44. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, by notification in the Gazette, constitute Syariah Subordinate Courts for the Federal Territories at such places as he considers fit. (2) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, by notification in the Gazette, constitute a Syariah High Court for the Federal Territories at such places as he considers fit. (3) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, by notification in the Gazette, constitute a Syariah Appeal Court for the Federal Territories.

Appointment of Chief Syariah Judge 45. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, appoint a Chief Syariah Judge. (2) A person is qualified for appointment under subsection (1) if he is a citizen and has for a period of not less than— (a) ten years before his appointment, been a Judge of the Syariah High Court, a Judge of the Syariah Subordinate Court, a Kadhi , a Registrar or a Syariah Prosecutor or sometimes one and sometimes another; (b) fifteen years before his appointment, been holding any post, other than those specified in paragraph (a), under the Syariah Officers’ Scheme in the general public service of the Federation; or (c) fifteen years before his appointment, been a Peguam Syarie and is learned in Hukum Syarak.

30

Bill

(3) The person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, was holding the office of Chief Syariah Judge under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, continue to hold office as the Chief Syariah Judge as if he had been appointed under subsection (1). (4) The appointment under subsection (1) shall be published in the Gazette. (5) For the purpose of this section, “Registrar” means Registrar of the Syariah High Court appointed under section 50 and includes Chief Registrar of the Syariah Appeal Court. (6) For the purpose of this section, “Syariah Prosecutor” includes the Chief Syariah Prosecutor. Appointment of Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court 46. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, appoint nine Muslims to constitute a standing panel of judges of the Syariah Appeal Court. (2) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the recommendation of the Majlis, appoint a Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court from amongst the judges of the Syariah Appeal Court. (3) A person appointed under subsection (1), if he is not from amongst Syariah Officers in the general public service of the Federation, shall hold office for a period of three years and is eligible for reappointment. (4) The Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court shall select two or four from amongst the standing panel of judges to form a quorum of judges in the Syariah Appeal Court in respect of every hearing. (5) The persons who, immediately before the commencement of this section, were holding office as Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, continue to hold office as Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court as if they had been appointed under subsection (1).

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

31

(6) All appointments under subsection (1) shall be published in the Gazette.

Appointment of Judges of the Syariah High Court 47. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, appoint Judges of the Syariah High Court. (2) A person is qualified for appointment under subsection (1) if he is a citizen and has for a period of not less than— (a) ten years before his appointment, been a Judge of the Syariah Subordinate Court, a Kadhi , a Registrar or a Syariah Prosecutor or sometimes one and sometimes another; (b) ten years before his appointment, been holding any post, other than those specified in paragraph (a), under the Syariah Officers’ Scheme in the general public service of the Federation; or (c) fifteen years before his appointment, been a Peguam Syarie and is learned in Hukum Syarak. (3) The persons who, immediately before the commencement of this section, were holding office as Judges of the Syariah High Court under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, continue to hold office as Judges of the Syariah High Court as if they had been appointed under subsection (1). (4) All appointments under subsection (1) shall be published in the Gazette. (5) For the purpose of this section, “Registrar” means Registrar of the Syariah High Court appointed under section 50 and includes Chief Registrar of the Syariah Appeal Court. (6) For the purpose of this section, “Syariah Prosecutor” includes the Chief Syariah Prosecutor.

32

Bill

Appointment of Judges of Syariah Subordinate Courts 48. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the recommendation of the Chief Syariah Judge, appoint from amongst Syariah Officers in the general public service of the Federation, Judges of the Syariah Subordinate Courts. (2) The persons who, immediately before the commencement of this section, were holding office as Judges of the Syariah Subordinate Courts under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, continue to hold office as Judges of the Syariah Subordinate Courts as if they had been appointed under subsection (1). (3) All appointments under subsection (1) shall be published in the Gazette. Code of ethics of Syariah Judges and Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court 49. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the recommendation of the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court, specify in writing a code of ethics which shall be followed by all Syariah Judges and Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court. Chief Registrar, Registrars, Deputy Registrars and Assistant Registrars 50. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Chief Syariah Judge, appoint a Chief Registrar of the Syariah Appeal Court, Registrars of the Syariah High Court, Deputy Registrars of the Syariah High Court and Assistant Registrars of the Syariah Subordinate Courts from amongst Syariah Officers in the general public service of the Federation. Jurisdiction of Syariah High Court 51. (1) A Syariah High Court shall have jurisdiction throughout the Federal Territories and shall be presided over by a Judge of the Syariah High Court.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

33

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Chief Syariah Judge may sit as a Judge of the Syariah High Court and preside over such Court. (3) The Syariah High Court shall— (a) in its criminal jurisdiction, try any offence committed by a Muslim and punishable under this Act, the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 [ Act 303 ], the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 [ Act 559 ] or under any other written law for the time being in force prescribing offences against the precepts of the religion of Islam, and may impose any punishment provided for such offences; and (b) in its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine all actions and proceedings if all parties to the actions or proceedings are Muslims and the actions or proceedings relate to– (i) betrothal, marriage, ruju’, divorce, annulment of marriage (fasakh), nusyuz , or judicial separation (faraq) or any other matter relating to the relationship between husband and wife; (ii) any disposition of, or claim to, property arising out of any of the matters set out in subparagraph (i); (iii) the maintenance of dependants, legitimacy, or guardianship or custody (hadhanah) of infants; (iv) the division of, or claims to, harta sepencarian ; (v) wills or gifts made while in a state of marad-almaut ; (vi) gifts inter vivos, or settlements made without adequate consideration in money or money’s worth, by a Muslim; (vii) wakaf or nazar ; (viii) division and inheritance of testate or intestate property;

34

Bill (ix) the determination of the persons entitled to share in the estate of a deceased Muslim or the shares to which such persons are respectively entitled; (x) a declaration that a person is no longer a Muslim; (xi) a declaration that a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death; and (xii) other matters in respect of which jurisdiction is conferred by any written law.

Jurisdiction of Syariah Subordinate Court 52. (1) A Syariah Subordinate Court shall have jurisdiction throughout the Federal Territories and shall be presided over by a Judge of the Syariah Subordinate Court. (2) The Syariah Subordinate Court shall— (a) in its criminal jurisdiction, try any offence committed by a Muslim under this Act, the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984, the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 or any other written law which prescribes offences against the precepts of the religion of Islam for which the punishment for such offence provided by such Act or other written law does not exceed three thousand ringgit or imprisonment for a term of two years or both, and may impose any punishment provided for such offences; and (b) in its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine all such actions and proceedings as a Syariah High Court is authorised to hear and determine, if the amount or value of the subject matter in dispute does not exceed one hundred thousand ringgit or is not capable of estimation in terms of moneys (not including claims of hadhanah or harta sepencarian ). (3) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, from time to time, by order published in the Gazette, extend the jurisdiction of the Syariah Subordinate Courts.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Appeals to Syariah High Court

35

53. (1) An appeal shall lie to the Syariah High Court from any decision of a Syariah Subordinate Court— (a) in its criminal jurisdiction, by the prosecutor or by the person convicted, and such appeal may be against an acquittal, a conviction or a sentence or any of them; and (b) in its civil jurisdiction— (i) by any person aggrieved by the decision, if the amount claimed is not less than one thousand ringgit; (ii) in all cases involving any decision as to personal status, by any person aggrieved by the decision; and (iii) in all cases relating to maintenance of dependants, by any person aggrieved by the decision, but no appeal shall lie against a decision made by consent; and (c) in any other case, if the Syariah High Court gives leave to appeal. (2) In any appeal, the Syariah High Court may— (a) in a criminal matter, dismiss the appeal, convict and sentence the appellant, order the trial Court to call for the defence or make further inquiry, enhance or alter the nature of the sentence, order a retrial, or alter or reverse any order of the trial Court; and (b) in a civil matter, confirm, reverse or vary the decision of the trial Court, exercise any such powers as the trial Court could have exercised, make such order as the trial Court ought to have made, or order a retrial.

36

Bill

Application for leave to appeal 54. (1) An appeal or application for leave to appeal under paragraph 53(1)(c) shall be made to the Syariah High Court in such manner as may be prescribed, but in any event within fourteen days from the date of the judgment, order or decision in respect of which the application is made or, in the event that the applicant was not on that date aware thereof and could not by the exercise of reasonable diligence have become so aware, within fourteen days from the date such judgment, order or decision came to his knowledge. (2) The Syariah High Court, on hearing any application for leave to appeal, may on special grounds extend the time for appealing, notwithstanding that it may have expired. Inheritance certificates 55. If in the course of any proceedings relating to the administration or distribution of the estate of a deceased Muslim, any court or authority, other than the Syariah High Court or Syariah Subordinate Court, is under a duty to determine— (a) the persons entitled to share in the estate; or (b) the shares to which such persons are respectively entitled, the Syariah Court may, on the application of any person who claims to be a beneficiary or his representative, and on payment of the prescribed fee, certify the facts found by it and its opinion as to the persons who are entitled to share in the estate and as to shares to which they are respectively entitled. Supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction of Syariah High Court 56. (1) The Syariah High Court shall have supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction over all Syariah Subordinate Courts and may, if it appears desirable in the interest of justice, either of its own motion or at the instance of any party or person interested, at any stage in any matter or proceeding, whether civil or criminal, in

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

37

any Syariah Subordinate Court, call for and examine any records of such matter or proceedings and may give such directions, orders or decisions as justice may require. (2) Whenever the Syariah High Court calls for the records of such matter or proceedings under subsection (1), all proceedings in the Syariah Subordinate Court on the matter or proceedings in question shall be stayed pending further order of the Syariah High Court. J urisdiction of Syariah Appeal Court 57. (1) The Syariah Appeal Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any appeal against any decision made by the Syariah High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. (2) When an appeal from a decision of a Syariah Subordinate Court has been determined by the Syariah High Court, the Syariah Appeal Court may, on the application of any party, grant leave for the determination by itself of any question of law of public interest which has arisen in the course of the appeal and the determination of which by the Syariah High Court has affected the result of the appeal. (3) When leave has been granted by the Syariah Appeal Court, it shall hear and determine the question allowed to be referred for its determination and make such order as the Syariah High Court might have made and as it considers just for the disposal of the appeal. Supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction of Syariah Appeal Court 58. (1) The Syariah Appeal Court shall have supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction over the Syariah High Court and may, if it appears desirable in the interest of justice, either of its own motion or at instance of any party or person interested, at any stage in any matter or proceedings, whether civil or criminal, in the Syariah High Court, call for and examine any records of such matter or proceedings and may give such directions, orders or decisions as justice may require.

38

Bill

(2) Whenever the Syariah Appeal Court calls for the records of any matter or proceedings under subsection (1), all proceedings in the Syariah High Court on the matter or proceedings shall be stayed pending further order of the Syariah Appeal Court.

Composition of Syariah Appeal Court 59. (1) An appeal in the Syariah Appeal Court shall be heard and disposed of by a chairman and two or four other Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court as the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court may determine. (2) Notwithstanding section 46, the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court may appoint any Judge of the Syariah High Court to be a member of the Syariah Appeal Court for any particular proceedings if he considers it desirable to do so. (3) The Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court shall be the chairman for every proceedings of the Syariah Appeal Court unless— (a) the appeal or revision before the Syariah Appeal Court is against the decision of the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court who sat as a Judge of the Syariah High Court; or (b) the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court is unable to be the chairman for any other reason. (4) If the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court cannot be the chairman for any reason specified in subsection (3), the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court shall appoint the most senior of the Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court to be the chairman.

Decision of Syariah Appeal Court shall be by the majority 60. An appeal shall be decided in accordance with the opinion of the majority of the members of the Syariah Appeal Court.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

39

Continuation of proceedings in Syariah Appeal Court notwithstanding absence of Judge 61. (1) If in the course of any proceedings in an appeal at any time before the judgment is delivered, any Judge of the Syariah Appeal Court hearing the proceedings is unable, through illness or any other cause, to attend and complete the proceedings or otherwise exercise his function as a Judge of that Court, then, if both parties consent, the hearing shall continue and judgment or reserved judgment, as the case may be, shall be given by the remaining two or four Judges of the Court, and for the purposes of the appeal, the Court shall be deemed to have been properly constituted. (2) In any such case as is mentioned in subsection (1), if there is no unanimous decision by the remaining Judges, the appeal shall be re-heard. (3) If under subsection (1) both parties do not give their consent, or more than one Judge are unable, through illness or any other cause, to attend and complete the proceeding or otherwise exercise their functions as Judges of that Court, the appeal shall be re-heard. Open court 62. (1) Subject to any other written law and subsection (2), all trials in the Syariah Court shall be open to the public. (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Syariah Court may order that the whole or any part of any proceedings before it be held in camera if it is satisfied that such order would be in the interest of justice or propriety. Language 63. The national language shall be the language for all proceedings in the Syariah Court and all documents and notes of proceedings may be in the Rumi or Jawi Script.

40 Reciprocal action

Bill

64. (1) Where a Syariah Court in any State in Malaysia issues a warrant or summons, as the case may be, under the provisions of any law in force in that State, to be executed or served on any person who is or believed to be in the Federal Territories, any Syariah Judge may endorse the warrant or summons by signing it and the warrant or summons may be executed or served on such person as if the warrant or summons had been issued by a Syariah Court in the Federal Territories according to the provisions of this Act. (2) Where a Syariah Court in the Federal Territories issues a warrant authorising the arrest of any person, or summons calling any person to appear in a Syariah Court, and such person is or is believed to be in another State in Malaysia and such warrant or summons is executed or served on such person in accordance with any law in force in that State, the warrant or summons shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to have been duly executed or served as if the execution or service had been effected in the Federal Territories. (3) Where a Syariah Court in any State in Malaysia makes an order or a judgment under the provisions of any law in force in that State against a person and such person is or is believed to be in the Federal Territories, a Syariah Judge, if he is satisfied that the order or judgment was duly issued by a competent Syariah Court in any State in Malaysia, may endorse the order or judgment and such order or judgment may be executed or served, as the case may be, as if it had been an order or a judgment lawfully made by any Syariah Court in the Federal Territories according to the provisions of this Act. (4) Where a Syariah Court in the Federal Territories makes an order or a judgment against any person, or an order calling any person to appear in a Syariah Court and such person is or is believed to be in another State in Malaysia and the order or judgment is executed or served on such person in accordance with any law in force in that State, such order or judgment shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to have been duly executed or served as if the execution or service had been effected in the Federal Territories.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Protection of Judges, Court officials, etc.

41

65. (1) No Judge of the Syariah Appeal Court or Syariah Judge shall be liable to be sued in any Syariah or civil court for any act done or ordered to be done by him in the discharge of his judicial duty, whether or not within the limits of his jurisdiction, nor shall any order for cost be made against him, provided that at that time he in good faith believed himself to have the jurisdiction to do or order the act complained of. (2) No officer of any Court or other person bound to execute the lawful warrant or order of a Judge of the Syariah Appeal Court or a Syariah Judge shall be liable to be sued in any Syariah Court or Civil Court for the execution of such warrant or order. Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts 66. (1) There shall be established a committee to be called the Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts for the making of rules on the procedures of the Syariah Appeal Court, the Syariah High Court and the Syariah Subordinate Court and matters related to it. (2) The Rules Commitee of the Syariah Courts shall consist of— (a) the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court, as Chairman; (b) the Attorney General or his representative; (c) the Chief Syariah Prosecutor; (d) the Legal Advisor of the Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia; (e) a representative of the Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia who is practising in the Federal Territories; (f) a Syariah Officer serving with the Legal Aid Department established under the Legal Aid Act 1971 [ Act 26 ]; and

42

Bill (g) the following persons appointed by the Chairman of the Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts: (i) not less than two Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court; (ii) a Judge of the Syariah High Court; and (iii) a Judge of the Syariah Subordinate Court.

(3) The Chairman of the Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts may appoint a secretary who shall be responsible to carry out the decisions of the Committee. (4) The Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts may determine its own procedure. (5) All rules made by the Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts shall be published in the Gazette. Practice Directions 67. The Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court may, from time to time, give any practice directions as he considers necessary. P ART V
PROSECUTION AND REPRESENTATION

Chief Syariah Prosecutor and Syariah Prosecutors 68. (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Majlis, appoint a person who is qualified to be a Judge of the Syariah High Court to be the Chief Syariah Prosecutor. (2) The Chief Syariah Prosecutor shall have power exercisable at his discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence before any Syariah Court. (3) The Majlis may appoint fit and proper persons from amongst the Syariah Officers in the general public service of the Federation to be Syariah Prosecutors.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

43

(4) Syariah Prosecutors shall act under the general control and direction of the Chief Syariah Prosecutor and may exercise all or any of the rights and powers vested in or exercisable by the Chief Syariah Prosecutor, except rights and powers expressed to be exercisable by the Chief Syariah Prosecutor personally. Chief Religious Enforcement Officer and Religious Enforcement Officer 69. (1) The Majlis may appoint from amongst the members of the joint service or the general public service of the Federation, a Chief Religious Enforcement Officer and Religious Enforcement Officers to carry out the investigation of offences under this Act or under any other written law which prescribes offences against the precepts of the religion of Islam. (2) The Religious Enforcement Officers shall act under the general control and direction of the Chief Religious Enforcement Officer and may exercise all or any of the rights and powers vested in or exercisable by the Chief Religious Enforcement Officer, except rights and powers expressed to be exercisable by the Chief Religious Enforcement Officer personally. Peguam Syarie 70. (1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (4), the Majlis may admit any person having sufficient knowledge of Hukum Syarak to be Peguam Syarie to represent parties in any proceedings before a Syariah Court. (2) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations— (a) to provide for the procedures, qualifications and fees for the admission of Peguam Syarie; and (b) to regulate, control and supervise the conduct of Peguam Syarie. (3) Notwithstanding subsection (1)— (a) any member of the Judicial and Legal Service;

44

Bill (b) any person appointed under section 3 of the Legal Aid Act 1971; (c) any Syariah Officer in the general public service of the Federation; or (d) any legal officer of the Majlis,

may act as Peguam Syarie representing any party to any proceedings in the Syariah Court. (4) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), any person who has been admitted as Peguam Syarie under any written law in force in any State in Malaysia shall be admitted as Peguam Syarie for the Federal Territories on application being made by him to the Majlis accompanied by evidence of his admission as a Peguam Syarie in that other State. (5) A person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, was admitted as a Peguam Syarie under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section and subject to this Act, be deemed to have been admitted as Peguam Syarie and shall be entitled to appear in any Syariah Court on behalf of any party to any proceedings before the Syariah Court. (6) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other written law, no person, other than a Peguam Syarie and a person mentioned in subsection (3), is entitled to appear in any Syariah Court on behalf of any party to any proceedings before it. P ART VI
FINANCIAL PROVISIONS Baitulmal and financial procedure of the Majlis

Establishment of Baitulmal 71. (1) A fund to be known as the Baitulmal is established. (2) The Baitulmal shall consist of all moneys and property, movable or immovable, which by Hukum Syarak or under this Act or regulations or rules made under this Act, accrue, or are contributed by any persons, to the Baitulmal .

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

45

(3) All moneys and property in the Baitulmal shall be vested in the Majlis which shall administer all such moneys and property in accordance with regulations made under this Act. (4) Notwithstanding the regulations referred to in subsection (3), any investment, assets or funds vested in the Majlis may be sold, realised and disposed of, and the proceeds thereof may be invested from time to time in any investments authorized by any written law for the time being in force for the investment of trust funds and Hukum Syarak. (5) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations for the collection, administration and distribution of all of the property of the Baitulmal . (6) On the commencement of this section, the Baitulmal existing immediately before the commencement of this section by virtue of the previous Act, shall be deemed to be the Baitulmal established under subsection (1), and all moneys and property standing in or due to be paid or belonging to the Baitulmal established under the previous Act shall be transferred to and vested in the Baitulmal established under subsection (1). Estimates of income and expenditure 72. (1) The Majlis shall prepare and submit to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, not later than 31 October in each year, estimates of all income and expenditure of the Majlis, including the estimates of all property and disposables in kind, in respect of the ensuing year. (2) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, on the advice of the Minister, approve such estimates or direct that the estimates be amended. (3) Estimates which have been approved, with or without amendments under subsection (2), shall be published in the Gazette.

46

Bill

(4) The Majlis may, at any time, submit to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong supplementary estimates of expenditure in respect of the current year, or, at any time prior to 31 March in any year, in respect of the preceding year, and the estimates may be approved or amended, and shall be published in accordance with subsection (3). (5) No money shall be expended, or property disposed of in kind, except in accordance with such estimates as are provided for in this section and upon a voucher signed by the Chairman or any officer of the Majlis or any other officer authorized by the Chairman. Expenses of the Majlis 73. All costs, charges and expenses of administering the property and assets vested in the Majlis, including the costs of maintenance and repair of any immovable property, the salaries and allowances payable to any officer or servant of the Majlis, and the fees and allowances payable to any officer, servant or member of the Majlis in respect of his services as the officer, servant or member of the Majlis, shall be paid out of the property and assets of the Baitulmal . Bank accounts 74. (1) The Majlis may operate such account or accounts as it may deem proper with any suitable bank. (2) Payments by the Majlis of any amount shall be made by any means as the Majlis may determine. (3) All moneys received by or for the Majlis shall be paid into a bank account of the Majlis in the manner provided in the financial procedure of the Majlis. (4) Cheques drawn on any bank account of the Majlis shall be signed by the Chairman or by any member or officer of the Majlis or any other officer authorized by the Chairman. Accounts and annual reports 75. The Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980 [ Act 240 ] shall apply to the Majlis.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)
Zakat and fitrah

47

Power of Majlis to collect and distribute zakat and fitrah 76. The Majlis is empowered to collect zakat and fitrah due from every Muslim person in the Federal Territories and distribute the zakat and fitrah in accordance with Hukum Syarak on behalf of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Power to make regulations 77. The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations providing for or relating to— (a) the supervision of all matters pertaining to the collection, administration and division of zakat and fitrah ; (b) the rate of value for zakat and fitrah payable by every Muslim in the Federal Territories; (c) the procedures on the collection of zakat and fitrah ; (d) the appointment of amils to collect zakat and fitrah ; and (e) the penalties and punishments for matters relating to the collection or delivery of all proceeds of zakat and fitrah . Appeal 78. (1) Any person may appeal to the Majlis against any claim on payment of zakat made on him. (2) Majlis shall consider the appeal and may order the person to pay the amount of zakat claimed on him, or any lesser amount as the Majlis deems fit, or may order that the person is not required to pay zakat , or either one of it in a particular year or years. (3) The decision of the Majlis on the appeal shall be conclusive and shall not be questioned in any Syariah Court.

48

Bill
Wakaf, nazar and trust

Majlis to be sole trustee of wakaf, nazar and trust 79. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in any instrument or declaration creating, governing or affecting it, the Majlis shall be the sole trustee of— (a) all wakaf , whether wakaf am or wakaf khas ; (b) all nazar am; and (c) all trusts of every description creating any charitable trust for the support and promotion of the religion of Islam or for the benefit of Muslims in accordance with Hukum Syarak, to the extent of the property affected by the wakaf , nazar am or trust and situated in the Federal Territories. Vesting of wakaf, nazar and trust property in Majlis 80. All property, subject to section 81, shall without any conveyance, assignment or transfer, and, in the case of immovable property, upon registration under the written law relating to land, vest in the Majlis for the purpose of the wakaf , nazar am or trust affecting the property. Restriction on creation of charitable trusts 81. (1) Whether or not made by way of will or death-bed gift (marad-al-maut), no wakaf or nazar, made after the commencement of this section and involving more than one-third of the property of the person making the wakaf or nazar , shall be valid in respect of the excess beyond such one-third. (2) Every wakaf khas or nazar made after the commencement of this section shall be null and void unless— (a) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of the Majlis, has expressly sanctioned and validated the wakaf khas or nazar ; or

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

49

(b) the wakaf khas or nazar was made while the maker was seriously ill and the maker subsequently died of such illness and was made in writing by an instrument executed by him and witnessed by two adult Muslims living in the same kariah masjid as the maker. (3) This section shall not operate to render valid any will, deathbed gift, wakaf or nazar which is invalid under the provisions of Hukum Syarak. (4) Any wakaf or nazar which is valid in accordance with the previous Act shall remain valid for the purpose of this Act. Income from wakaf and nazar 82. (1) The income received by the Majlis from a wakaf khas shall be applied by it in accordance with the lawful provisions of such wakaf khas . (2) The income of every wakaf other than wakaf khas and of every nazar am shall be paid into and form part of the Baitulmal . Capital of wakaf and nazar 83. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the capital property and assets affected by any lawful wakaf or nazar am shall not form part of the Baitulmal , but shall be applied in pursuance of such wakaf or nazar am and held as segregated funds. (2) If, due to lapse of time or change of circumstances, it is no longer possible beneficially to carry out the exact provisions of any wakaf or nazar am, the Majlis shall prepare a scheme for the application of the property and assets affected thereby in a manner as closely as may be analogous to that required by the terms of such wakaf or nazar am and shall apply the property and assets accordingly. (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Majlis may, with the approval in writing of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, direct that the property and assets referred to in subsection (2) be added to and form part of the Baitulmal .

50

Bill

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (1), if the terms of any wakaf or nazar am do not specify the method of application of the capital property or assets affected thereby, or it is uncertain from such terms in what manner the capital property or assets should be applied, the Majlis may direct that such capital property and assets shall be added to and form part of the Baitulmal . (5) All instruments creating, evidencing or affecting any wakaf or nazar am, together with any documents of title or other securities relating thereto, shall be held and retained by the Majlis. Construction of instruments on wakaf or nazar 84. If, in the opinion of the Majlis, the meaning or effect of any instrument or declaration creating or affecting any wakaf or nazar is obscure or uncertain, the Majlis may refer the matter to the Fatwa Committee for its opinion as to the meaning or effect of the instrument or declaration, and shall act on any opinion so given by the Fatwa Committee. Publication of list of wakaf, nazar and trust property 85. As soon as possible after 31 December in each year, the Majlis shall prepare, issue and publish in the Gazette, a list of all properties, investments and assets vested in the Majlis , subject to any wakaf , nazar or trust, and not forming part of the Baitulmal .
Charitable collections

Charitable collections 86. (1) Majlis may— (a) collect; or (b) authorize any person or body of persons, by an authorization letter issued by the Majlis, on such terms as the Majlis deems fit, to collect, moneys or other contributions for any charitable purpose for the support and promotion of the religion of Islam or for the benefit of Muslims in accordance with Hukum Syarak.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

51

(2) It shall be deemed to be a term of every authorization letter granted under paragraph (1)(b) that the grantee thereof and every other person authorized thereby to collect moneys or other contributions shall— (a) issue in respect of every sum so collected a serially numbered receipt in the prescribed form; (b) keep true and full accounts of all sums so collected and of the disposal thereof with all proper vouchers; (c) produce, on demand, the counterfoils of such receipts and all such accounts and vouchers for inspection and audit by the Majlis; (d) apply and dispose of all sums of money or other contributions so collected in accordance with the terms of such authorization letter or, if no method for the disposal of the moneys or other contributions is expressly authorized by the authorization letter, pay and account for the sums to the Baitulmal . (3) Moneys or other contributions collected pursuant to this section may be applied for any purpose specified by the Majlis, and if there is no purpose so specified, shall form part of the Baitulmal . (4) No person shall make or take part in any collection of money for any purpose as mentioned in subsection (1) except with the express authority of the Majlis or by virtue of an authorization letter under subsection (1). (5) Any person who contravenes subsection (4) commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both. P ART VII
MOSQUES

Majlis to be sole trustee of mosques and related land 87. (1) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any written instrument, the Majlis shall be the sole trustee of all mosques in the Federal Territories.

52

Bill

(2) Every mosque, together with the land on which it stands and any land which is appurtenant to and used for the purposes of the mosque, other than Government land or land reserved for a public purpose, shall, upon registration under the relevant written law relating to land, and without any conveyance, assignment or transfer, vest in the Majlis for the purposes of this Act. Restriction on establishment of mosques and penalty 88. (1) No person shall, without the permission in writing from the Majlis, erect any building to be used, or use or cause or permit to be used any building for purposes which may only be carried on, in or by a mosque. (2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for term not exceeding one year or to both. Establishment of mosques 89. (1) The Majlis may at any time— (a) permit a building to be erected for use as a mosque; (b) permit the use of any building as a mosque; and (c) prescribe any surau, madrasah or other building to be a mosque. (2) The Majlis shall not give its permission or make a prescription under subsection (1) unless the site of the building to be used as mosque has been made a wakaf in perpetuity. (3) The Majlis may, by notification in the Gazette, determine or alter the boundaries of any kariah masjid . Maintenance of mosques and their compounds 90. (1) The Majlis shall ensure that all mosques in the Federal Territories are kept in a proper state of repair and that their compounds are maintained in a proper state of cleanliness.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

53

(2) The Majlis may raise and apply, or authorize the raising and application of, special funds for the purpose of such repairs and maintenance, or may defray the cost of such repairs and maintenance from the Baitulmal . (3) The Jawatankuasa Kariah shall promptly inform the Majlis of any want of repair in their mosque and shall inspect or supervise any repairs as agent for and on behalf of the Majlis. (4) No material alteration to the structure of a mosque shall be made without the permission in writing from the Majlis. (5) The Majlis may direct a Jawatankuasa Kariah to keep the mosque for which it is responsible in a proper state of repair. Appointment of Pegawai Masjid 91. (1) For every mosque in the Federal Territories, the Majlis shall appoint one or several Pegawai Masjid . (2) The posts of Pegawai Masjid , other than Imam Ratib and Pembantu Bilal , shall be posts in the general public service of the Federation. (3) The Imam and Bilal shall be appointed by the Majlis from amongst persons serving in the Religious Administrative service. (4) The Imam Ratib and Pembantu Bilal shall be appointed by the Majlis, on the advice of the Fatwa Committee, from amongst the anak kariah . (5) Every person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, was the Imam, Imam Ratib , Bilal or Pembantu Bilal of mosques appointed under the previous Act shall, on the commencement of this section, be deemed to have been duly appointed under this section to be the Imam, Imam Ratib , Bilal or Pembantu Bilal respectively of the mosques and shall, subject to section 93, continue to hold office as the Imam, Imam Ratib , Bilal or Pembantu Bilal of such mosque.

54

Bill

(6) For the purpose of this Part, “Imam” means the Head of Imam and includes the Deputy Head of Imam. Tauliah of Pegawai Masjid 92. (1) Every person appointed under section 91 to be a Pegawai Masjid , including every person deemed to have been so appointed under subsection 91(5), shall be given a tauliah by the Majlis. (2) Every Pegawai Masjid shall have such powers and duties as may be set out in the regulations made under this Act and in his tauliah . Tenure of office of Pegawai Masjid 93. (1) The appointment of a Pegawai Masjid , other than the Imam and Bilal of a mosque appointed under subsection 91(3) or deemed to be appointed under subsection 91(5), may be terminated by written notice from the Majlis. (2) No Pegawai Masjid appointed or deemed to be appointed under subsection 91(5) shall remain in office after reaching the age of sixty years. (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Majlis may, if it deems fit, appoint any person to be a Pegawai Masjid notwithstanding that he has attained the age of sixty years or extend the tenure of office of a Pegawai Masjid who has attained the age of sixty years. (4) The Secretary shall inform the Majlis of any disgraceful conduct on the part of any Pegawai Masjid , whether in relation to his duties as Pegawai Masjid or otherwise, and to make any reasonable recommendations. Control and direction of Pegawai Masjid 94. In the performance of their duties, the Imam, the Imam Ratib , Bilal and Pembantu Bilal shall be subject to the control and direction of the Majlis.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Jawatankuasa Kariah

55

95. (1) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations for— (a) the establishment of a Jawatankuasa Kariah for a kariah masjid ; (b) prescribing the manner in which the members of the Jawatankuasa Kariah shall be appointed; and (c) prescribing the functions of the Jawatankuasa Kariah . (2) The Jawatankuasa Kariah of a kariah masjid , together with the Pegawai Masjid , shall— (a) be responsible for the proper conduct and good order of the mosque and all Muslim burial grounds within the kariah masjid ; (b) be responsible for the good conduct of the anak kariah in matters relating to the religion of Islam; and (c) give due and prompt information to the Majlis of all matters arising in the kariah masjid that require the attention of the Majlis. Exemption of mosques 96. The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, by notification in the Gazette, exempt the application of all or any of the provisions of this Part to any mosque. P ART VIII
CONVERSION TO THE RELIGION OF ISLAM

Requirements for conversion to the religion of Islam 97. (1) The following requirements shall be complied with for a valid conversion of a person to the religion of Islam: (a) the person must utter clearly in reasonably intelligible Arabic the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith;

56

Bill (b) at the time of uttering the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith, the person must be aware that they mean “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. is the Messenger of Allah”; and (c) the utterance must be made of the person’s own free will.

(2) A person who is incapable of speech may, for the purpose of fulfilling the requirement of paragraph (1)(a), utter the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith by means of signs that convey the meaning specified in paragraph (1)(b).

Moment of conversion to the religion of Islam 98. A person is converted to the religion of Islam and becomes a Muslim as soon as he finishes uttering the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith provided that the requirements of section 97 are fulfilled; and that person shall thereupon be referred to as a mualaf .

Duties and obligations of mualaf 99. From the moment of his conversion, a mualaf becomes subject to the same duties and obligations as any other Muslim.

Appointment of Chief Registrar of Mualafs and Registrars of Mualafs 100. (1) The Majlis shall appoint a Chief Registrar of Mualafs to maintain a Register of Mualafs in the prescribed form for the registration of mualaf . (2) The Majlis may appoint such numbers of Registrars of Mualafs to assist the Chief Registrar of Mualafs in the performance of his duties under this Act.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Registration of mualaf

57

101. (1) A person who has converted to the religion of Islam may apply to the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs in the prescribed form for registration as a mualaf . (2) If the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs is satisfied that the requirements of section 97 have been fulfilled in respect of the applicant, the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs may register the applicant’s conversion to the religion of Islam by entering in the Register of Mualafs the name of the applicant and other particulars as required in the Register of Mualafs . (3) The Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs shall also determine the date of the applicant’s conversion to the religion of Islam and enter such date in the Register of Mualafs . (4) In order to satisfy himself of the fact and date of conversion to the religion of Islam by the applicant and the other particulars to be entered in the Register of Mualafs , the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs may make such inquiries and call for such evidence as he considers necessary; but this subsection shall not be construed as precluding the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs from relying solely on the words of the applicant as far as the fact and date of conversion are concerned. (5) If the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs is not satisfied that the requirements of section 97 have been fulfilled in respect of the applicant, he may permit the applicant to utter, in his presence or in the presence of any of his officers, the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith in accordance with the requirements of that section. Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam 102. (1) The Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs shall furnish every person whose conversion to the religion of Islam has been registered a Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam in the prescribed form.

58

Bill

(2) A Certificate of Conversion to the religion of Islam shall be conclusive proof of the facts stated in the Certificate. Recognition of mualaf as a Muslim 103. (1) A person who has converted to the religion of Islam and whose conversion has been registered in the Register of Mualafs shall, for the purposes of any Federal or State law, and for all time, be treated as a Muslim. (2) A person whose conversion to the religion of Islam has been registered under any law of any State shall, for all purposes in the Federal Territories and for the purposes of implementing the provisions of any law in the Federal Territories, be treated as a Muslim. Determination whether a non-registered person is a mualaf 104. If any question arises as to whether a person is a mualaf , and the person is not registered in the Register of Mualafs or under any law of any State as a mualaf , that question shall be decided on the merits of the case by reference to the requirement under section 97. Offence of giving false information 105. Any person who, in an application for registration under section 101, or in response to any request for information or evidence made by the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs under that section, wilfully furnishes to the Chief Registrar of Mualafs or Registrar of Mualafs any false or misleading information or evidence commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both. Power to make regulations 106. (1) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations for carrying into effect the provisions of this Part.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

59

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of powers conferred under subsection (1), regulations may be made to provide for— (a) the care and instruction of mualaf , and the method of registering mualaf ; and (b) the shelter home of mualaf . Capacity to convert to the religion of Islam 107. For the purpose of this Part, a person who is not a Muslim may convert to the religion of Islam if he is of sound mind and— (a) has attained the age of eighteen years; or (b) if he has not attained the age of eighteen years, his parent or guardian consents to his conversion. P ART IX
ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

Islamic Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee 108. (1) The Majlis shall appoint a committee known as the Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee, which shall consist of— (a) the Mufti, as Chairman; (b) not less than three and not more than seven persons with appropriate experience, knowledge and expertise; and (c) an officer from the Department of Mufti appointed by the Majlis, as Secretary. (2) The Secretary of the Committee shall be responsible for implementing the decisions of the Committee. (3) The Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee shall have power to grant a tauliah for the purpose of the teaching of the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam and to withdraw such tauliah .

60

Bill

(4) The Majlis may make regulations providing for— (a) the procedure, requirements and other matters relating to the granting of a tauliah under this section, including the fees chargeable; (b) the procedure of the Islamic Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee; and (c) allowances which shall be paid to the members of the Committee.

Offence of teaching the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam without a tauliah 109. (1) Any person who teaches the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam without a tauliah granted under section 108 commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both. (2) Subsection (1) shall not apply to— (a) any person or class of persons exempted by the Majlis under section 111; and (b) any person who teaches the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam in his own residence to members of his own household.

Islamic religious schools 110. The Majlis shall have power to register Islamic religious schools in the Federal Territories.

Exemption 111. The Majlis may exempt any person or class of persons from any provision of this Part.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) P ART X
GENERAL

61

General power to make regulations 112. (1) The Majlis may, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, make regulations, which shall be published in the Gazette, for carrying into effect the provisions of this Act. (2) Without prejudice to the generality of powers conferred under subsection (1), regulations may be made to provide for— (a) the procedure of the Majlis, the form and method of executing instruments by the Majlis, and the appointment of officers and servants of the Majlis; (b) the fees to be paid in respect of any act or thing done under or in pursuance of this Act, and the method of collecting and disposing of such fees; (c) the appointment of committees of the Majlis and their powers, duties and procedures; (d) the forms, registers, books of account, reports, accounts, estimates and other documents to be used in respect of any act or thing done under or in pursuance of this Act; (e) the conduct of any charitable collection and the disposal of its proceeds; (f) the conduct of any mosque or surau or burial ground and all matters relating thereto; (g) the powers and duties of any Pegawai Masjid ; (h) the determination and amendment of the boundaries of a kariah masjid ; (i) the administration of Islamic religious schools and activities relating to the teaching of the religion of Islam; (j) the matter of wakaf , nazar or trust property;

62

Bill (k) the administration of welfare home, shelter and rehabilitation centre; and (l) other matters necessary for the implementation of the provisions of this Act.

Hukum Syarak 113. (1) Any provision or interpretation of the provisions under this Act which is inconsistent with Hukum Syarak shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. (2) In the event of a lacuna or where any matter is not expressly provided for in this Act, the Court shall apply Hukum Syarak. P ART XI
REPEAL, SAVINGS AND TRANSITIONAL

Repeal 114. The Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 [ Act 505 ] is repealed. Savings and transitional 115. (1) All rights, powers, obligations and liabilities which, immediately before the commencement of this Part, were vested in the previous Majlis shall, on the commencement of this Act, be vested in the Majlis. (2) All property, whether movable or immovable which, immediately before the commencement of this Act, were vested in the previous Majlis shall, on the commencement of this Part, be vested in the Majlis without any conveyance, assignment or transfer. (3) All regulations, rules, proclamations, orders, notifications, notices, forms, authorization letters and appointments issued or made under or by virtue of the law repealed under section 114

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

63

shall remain in operation, in so far as they are consistent with this Act, until revoked or replaced by regulations, rules, proclamations, orders, notifications, notices, forms, authorization letters or appointments issued or made under this Act. (4) All references to the previous Majlis or the previous Act contained in any written law shall be construed as reference to the Majlis or this Act respectively. (5) On the commencement of this Act, all powers of the Courts and the Syariah Appeal Court constituted under the previous Act shall be taken over or exercised by the Courts or the Syariah Appeal Court constituted under this Act and any reference in any written law or otherwise to the Courts and the Syariah Appeal Court constituted under the previous Act shall be deemed to be a reference to the Courts and the Syariah Appeal Court constituted under this Act.

Continuance of civil and criminal proceedings 116. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the repeal under section 114 shall not affect any person’s liability to be prosecuted or punished for offences committed under the previous Act or any proceedings brought or punishment imposed immediately before the commencement of this Act. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, any proceedings whether civil or criminal or cause of action pending or existing immediately before the commencement of this Act by or against the previous Majlis may be continued or instituted by or against the Majlis as if this Act had not been enacted. (3) Any appeal brought or any leave to appeal applied for, on or after the commencement of this Act, against a decision given in any legal proceedings immediately before the commencement of this Act may be brought by or against the Majlis as if this Act had not been enacted.

64

Bill
SCHEDULE [Subsection 2(3)] ARABIC SCRIPT FOR CERTAIN WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)
EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

65

This Bill seeks to introduce new and better provisions for the administration of the religion of Islam, the constitution and jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts and the establishment and functions of the Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan in the Federal Territories, and for matters related thereto. This Bill repeals the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 [Act 505 ]. P ART I 2. Part I of the Bill contains preliminary matters.

3. Clause 1 contains the short title, application and the date of commencement of the proposed Act whilst clause 2 contains the definitions of several words and expressions used in the Bill. Clause 3 reiterates that the rights and powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of the Religion of Islam in the Federal Territories are preserved. P ART II 4. Part II contains provisions on the Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (“Majlis”). 5. Clause 4 establishes the Majlis while clause 5 incorporates it.

6. Clause 6 provides that the Majlis is responsible for aiding and advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. 7. Clause 7 requires the Majlis to be involved in the economic and social development and wellbeing of the Muslim community. For that purpose, clause 8 gives powers to the Majlis to establish companies and validates companies that have been established by the Majlis under the Companies Act 1965. Clause 9 deals with the powers of the Majlis to borrow for the purpose of performing its functions. 8. Clauses 10 to 13 contain provisions relating to the membership of the Majlis, termination of appointment, revocation of appointment and publication of appointments and termination and revocation of appointments in the Gazette. 9. Clauses 14 and 15 set out the responsibilities of the Chairman and Secretary of the Majlis, respectively. 10. Clauses 16 to 23 deal with matters relating to meetings, minutes of meetings and resolutions of the Majlis. 11. Clause 24 deals with the leave of the Chairman and members of the Majlis.

66
12.

Bill
Clause 25 allows the Chairman to act in cases of urgency.

13. Clause 26 allows the Majlis to appoint committees. Clause 27 empowers the Majlis to delegate its powers and responsibilities to the Chairman, the Secretary and its committees. 14. Clause 28 provides for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer on such terms and conditions as the Majlis thinks desirable. 15. Clause 29 provides for the appointment of officers and servants of the Majlis and conditions of service. 16. Clauses 30 , 31 and 32 require the proceedings of the Majlis to be kept confidential, deem the members and officers of the Majlis to be public servants within the meaning of the Penal Code and permit the Majlis to determine its own procedure, respectively. P ART III 17. Part III contains provisions on the appointment of the Mufti, Deputy Mufti, Fatwa Committee and fatwa relating to matters of national interest. 18. Clause 33 provides for the appointment of the Mufti and Deputy Mufti whilst clause 34 spells out the functions of the Mufti. 19. Clause 35 deals with the establishment of the Fatwa Committee. Clauses 36 to 41 contain provisions relating to the making of a fatwa including fatwa affecting matters of national interest. Clause 42 relates to request for the opinion of the Fatwa Committee by the courts other than the Syariah Courts whilst clause 43 prescribes the authorities to be followed in making a fatwa . P ART IV 20. Part IV provides for matters relating to the Syariah Courts and Syariah Appeal Court. 21. Clause 44 contains provisions on the establishment of the Syariah Subordinate Courts, Syariah High Courts and Syariah Appeal Court. Clauses 45 to 50 provide for the appointment of the Chief Syariah Judge, Judges of the Syariah Appeal Court, Judges of the Syariah High Court and Judges of the Syariah Subordinate Court, Chief Registrar, Registrars, Deputy Registrars and Assistant Registrars. Clauses 51 to 58 set out the extent of the jurisdiction of such Courts. 22. Clauses 59 to 61 prescribe the procedure for appeals to the Syariah Appeal Court. 23. Clause 62 provides that trials shall be held in open court whilst clause 63 requires the proceedings in the Syariah Courts to be conducted in the national language.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)

67

24. Clause 64 contains provisions relating to the reciprocal execution of warrants and service of summons between the Federal Territories and States. 25. Clause 65 provides for the protection of Judges and Court officials.

26. Clause 66 contains provisions on the establishment of a Rules Committee of the Syariah Courts. 27. Clause 67 authorizes the Chairman of the Syariah Appeal Court to give any Practice Directions from time to time. P ART V 28. Part V contains provisions relating to prosecution and representation.

29. Clauses 68 and 69 contain provisions on the appointment of the Chief Syariah Prosecutor, Syariah Prosecutors, Chief Religious Enforcement Officer and Religious Enforcement Officer. 30. Clause 70 provides for matters relating to Peguam Syarie. P ART VI 31. Part VI contains financial provisions.

32. Clause 71 deals with the establishment and matters relating to the administration of the Baitulmal. Clause 72 provides for matters relating to the preparation of estimates of income and expenditure of the Majlis. Clause 73 deals with the expenses of the Majlis whilst clause 74 allows the Majlis to operate a bank account. Clause 75 provides that the Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980 applies to the Majlis. 33. Clauses 76 to 78 empower the Majlis to collect and distribute zakat and fitrah, to make regulations and consider appeals from any person against a claim for payment of zakat and fitrah on him. 34. Clause 79 provides that the Majlis shall be the sole trustee of all wakaf, nazar and trusts, whilst clauses 80 to 85 contain provisions relating to the administration of charitable trusts, wakaf and nazar. 35. Clause 86 contains provisions relating to charitable collections. P ART VII 36. Part VII contains provisions relating to mosques.

37. Clause 87 provides that the Majlis shall be the sole trustee of all mosques. 38. Clause 88 deals with restrictions on the establishment of mosques.

68

Bill

39. Clauses 89 and 90 provide the terms for establishment of mosques, the determination of the boundaries of a kariah masjid and maintenance of mosques by the Majlis. 40. Clauses 91 to 94 contain provisions relating to appointments, tauliah and tenure of office of Pegawai Masjid . 41. Clause 95 empowers the Majlis to make regulations with respect to Jawatankuasa Kariah . 42. Clause 96 allows the Majlis to exempt any mosque from the provisions of Part VII. P ART VIII 43. Part VIII contains provisions on conversion to the religion of Islam.

44. Clauses 97 and 98 determine the requirements for conversion to the religion of Islam and the moment of conversion whilst Clause 99 deals with the duties and obligations of a mualaf. 45. Clauses 100 to 104 provide for the appointment of the Chief Registrar of Mualafs and Registrars of Mualafs, registration of mualafs, Certificates of Conversion to the religion of Islam, recognition of mualafs and method of determining whether a non-registered person is a mualaf. 46. Clause 105 makes the act of giving false information or evidence during the process of registration of a mualaf an offence. 47. 48. Clause 106 empowers the Majlis to make regulations. Clause 107 relates to the capacity to convert to the religion of Islam.

P ART IX 49. Part IX contains provisions on Islamic religious education and the offence of teaching the religion of Islam without tauliah . 50. Clause 108 deals with the establishment of the Islamic Religious Teaching Supervisory Committee, its membership and functions. Clause 109 makes it an offence to teach the religion of Islam or any aspect of the religion of Islam without tauliah . 51. Clause 110 confers on the Majlis the power to register religious schools. 52. Clause 111 enables the Majlis to grant exemptions to any person from the application of the provisions of Part IX.

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories)
P ART X 53. 54. Part X contains general provisions. Clause 112 deals with the powers of Majlis to make regulations.

69

55. Clause 113 clearly states that any provision of the proposed Act which is inconsistent with Hukum Syarak shall be void to the extent of its inconsistency. P ART XI 56. Part XI contains repeal, savings and transitional and continuance of civil and criminal proceedings provisions in clauses 114 to 116 .

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

This Bill will involve the Government in extra financial expenditure the amount of which cannot at present be ascertained. [PN(U2)2382]

272

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful