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theSun

| WEDNESDAY APRIL 29 2009

speak up!
thesun says

Let’s say no to child conversion
THE AUTHORITIES must step up efforts to ensure that an anguished and grieving Hindu mother is reunited with her oneyear-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.

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letters@thesundaily.com

Keep health care affordable
AMID the call and need for better health care, I regret to note that prices of so-called “branded” (read: imported and more effective) prescriptions seem to be increasing. Apparently, the increase is justified due to high costs of research, marketing, duties, currency differences, etc. Of late, government subsidies for the expensive drugs are being reduced and the concern is that even this aid may not last. It is most unfortunate that patients on long-term and life-long medication, especially the young ones, will have to endure the additional stress of being financial burdens on top of prolonged suffering from their illnesses. This hapless group certainly need all the help they can get and health authorities should provide not just the best, but also more affordable treatment. Sue Chuah Puchong

Give doctors a break
I REFER to “Two doctors at emergency dept found ‘idling’” (April 27). I like to say that no one profession is stress free, the same with the medical profession. It can be extremely stressful for doctors in the emergency department. Recently, an ophthalmic surgeon whom I met at a conference wrote this to me, when I asked him about the job stresses he undergoes. He wrote: “A young couple came to me full of hope that I could do something for their new born baby. As I examined him, my heart sank. His condition was incurable. Can you imagine my feelings when I told the parents that their son would never be able to see? As I saw them out of my office, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. But a moment later my next patient was with me expecting a welcoming smile! Do you know how stressful my job can be?” Let us be compassionate and feel for our doctors who have sacrificed so much of their time and effort studying to help us. They were there when I needed them most. Thank you very much, doctors of Kuala Lumpur Hospital. You were always there when I needed you. Keep up the great work. Jackson Yogarajah Kuala Lumpur

OT for maids poser
Behind the MAS smile pg 19
I REFER to “Bosses might have to bank in maids’ wages” (April 24). The last paragraph of the article mentions the possibility of overtime when the maid works more than eight hours (to comply with the Employment Act 1955). How are we to quantify the number of hours worked by a maid? Eight hours of continuous work, add up the various periods spent on chores, or some other method. When the maid is not required to perform chores, does one measure or total up the time and deduct it from her wakeful hours? When the maid is at home on her own (without supervision), how can the employer measure the time she really spends on the job? What is a reasonable time required to do any chore? I wonder how the authorities are going to implement the eight-hour workday ruling for maids across board. CK Wong Petaling Jaya