Asia Malaysia More trouble for Pakatan with the unilateral conversion of minors bill in...

More trouble for Pakatan with the unilateral conversion of minors bill in Selangor

Local media suggests the unilateral conversion bill has links to the landmark Indira Ghandi case whose children are now Muslim converts after their father embraced Islam

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Pakatan seems to be in constant trouble, especially with a controversial bill that paves the way for the unilateral conversion of minors in the ruling coalition’s controlled state of Selangor.

The proposed amendment has the blessings of the state palace, but, according to a Malaysiakini report, most Pakatan Harapan assemblymen are opposed to it.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) today says it will not support the amendments.

Chairperson Gobind Singh Deo said that the Selangor DAP will not support the bill which proposes to permit the unilateral conversion of minors.

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Gobind, who is also Communications and Multimedia minister, said the Federal Constitution is supreme and overrides any provision of other laws inconsistent with it.

The state of Selangor fell into the hands of the then-opposition composing of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat or Justice Party, the DAP and the Islamists from the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia headed by Anwar Ibrahim in 2008.

The Pakatan now controls the federal government and Selangor, the richest and most industrialised state in Malaysia.

The state with a population of 6.5 million is a Pakatan stronghold since the 2008 elections. Since then, the coalition has run the state with the exception that in 2018, the Islamists Parti Islam Se-Malaysia was not part of the Pakatan coalition.

This is a second straight controversial move by the Pakatan after the decision by the Ministry of Education to add Malay calligraphy known as Khat in vernacular schools.

Some DAP members are against the teaching of the Khat in Chinese language schools.

Many who are against adding the Khat in the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus in the vernacular schools are asking the government to retract or delay the decision.

But Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir says he has given his consent while top DAP leaders said they are not against the idea.

The move to pass the unilateral conversion bill is however on hold after the state legislative assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim cutting short last month’s sitting of the Assembly.

This halted the tabling of the amendment to the state enactment pertaining to converting to Islam.

An influential NGO in Malaysia, the Sisters in Islam, has been asking the authorities who are those who proposed the bill and the reason behind it.

Local news portals are saying the amendment relates to a landmark ruling in the Federal Court in January last year.

“The Federal Court has, in M. Indira Gandhi’s case, held that the word parent applicable in the Federal Constitution means both parents.

“As such, the individual right of both parents to decide on the religion of their children who are minors now has the constitutional guarantee,” Gobind says in a statement to the media.

Last year, the Federal Court ruled in favour of Indira who is divorced from her husband. The latter, a convert to Islam, has since then converted their children to Islam.

The Court ruling challenges her three children’s conversion, saying both parents must agree on their children’s conversion to Islam.

This ruling departs from another court’s decision that either parent can decide on the children’s religion.

The court also ordered the police to locate Riduan and Prasana (the two children) and to return the child to the mother, Indira but the children are missing.

In Malaysia, it is not legal for Muslims to change religion but it is not the case for non-Muslims who has to embrace Islam if they marry a Muslim.

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