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asked on Dec 12, 2016 at 02:24
edited on Dec 22, 2016 at 06:48
The Star 11th Dec 2016

THE move by the Perlis state legislative assembly in allowing one parent to convert a child to Islam is totally at odds with what the Federal Government is finally doing.
It has disrupted the legal process of the Federal Government, and like it or not, this tiny state has set off a dangerous precedent.

Malaysians have argued, debated and decided on this contentious issue – and now Perlis has sent this controversy back to square one.

The issue of unilateral conversion became controversial in recent years after several cases like that of M. Indira Gandhi and S. Deepa, two women who faced lengthy court battles to gain custody and reverse the conversion of their children, carried out by their Muslim convert former husbands.

Understandably, Islam is a state matter but state legislation should be consistent with federal laws and the amended enactment by Perlis clearly contravenes the aims and spirit of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Bill 2016 which is intended to secure the constitutional rights of non-Muslims.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had noted that the Federal Constitution ruled supreme above all state laws, even in cases of unilateral conversion of a child.

“Once the amendment (to the Law Reform Act) is passed, it becomes federal law and it should be noted that Article 75 of the Federal Constitution provides that when any state law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail over the state law,” she said in a statement.

You don’t have to be a lawyer or legal expert to understand that Section 88A of this Federal Bill specifically states that “conversion to Islam can only be done with the approval of both parents”.

Azalina tabled the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Bill 2016 for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat last month, the highlight being the inclusion of a new section (Section 88A) that explicitly states that “both parties in a civil marriage” must agree to the conversion of a minor to Islam.

Specifically addressing the “Religion of a Child” in civil marriages where one spouse has converted to Islam, the amendment also said that the child will remain in the religion of the parents at the time of marriage until the child is 18 years old, when he may choose his own religion.

“Where a party to a marriage has converted to Islam, the religion of any child of the marriage shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion, except where both parties to the marriage agree to a conversion of the child to Islam, subject always to the wishes of the child where he or she has attained the age of eighteen years,” the section reads.

The proposed amendment also states that if the parties to the marriage professed different religions prior to one spouse converting to Islam, “a child of the marriage shall be at liberty to remain in the religion of either one of the prior religions of the parties before the conversion to Islam.”

I hope the state assemblymen in Perlis, regardless of their faith, have taken time to ponder on what they have decided on. It is easy to just say sokong (support) in unison. But have they considered the consequences?

Is it too difficult to allow children, where one parent has converted to Islam, to hold on to their original faith until they can decide for themselves at age 18?

Reverse the situation – if a Muslim parent residing in a non-Muslim country decides to embrace Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, and then converts the child to another faith – what will the reaction be? Frankly, I do not think this should be admissible either.

The same rule should be adopted and taken from a compassionate and humanitarian stand. Worse, we should never allow religion to be used in the fight over child custody when a marriage breaks down. It’s simple, common sense. Let’s do what is humane and right.

In a nutshell: unilateral conversion should not be allowed for whatever religion, be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism.

Should a parent convert to a religion which is different from that at the time of marriage, especially during the dissolution of marriage, the children should remain in the original faith until they turn 18.

Forcing the children to embrace any religion when one party decides to convert may show a lack of confidence in oneself in practising one’s faith or worse still, show a lack of faith in the attractiveness, beauty and truth in his or her religion.

It is more rational for parents to show their children the beauty of their faith, new or otherwise, and allow them to decide once they become adults.

There is nothing to stop a Hindu father or mother, who has become a Muslim, from bringing his or her child to study Islam or visit the mosque to share the beauty of Islam.

When the time comes, let the child decide for himself. The question is – what’s the hurry?

This is a country which is predominantly Muslim. Certainly, the presence of Islam is increasingly dominant and the religious authorities should not worry about numbers.

These wise men of Islam, in fact, should be aware that there are selfish men and women out there who use religion for their own motives when a marriage goes sour.

Why are we denying justice to the non-converting spouse?

The same principle applies to those of other faiths too, and we acknowledge that all religions believe in justice and compassion.

We should also remind ourselves that the Federal Constitution is a major piece of legislation aimed at balancing the needs of all races and religions that make up this multi-racial country.

If a single parent is to be allowed to convert a child it would only have the effect of ignoring constitutional provisions.

Take a breather, listen to our hearts of heart, do what is fair, just and right – not what is politically right or politically beneficial.

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answered on Jan 10, 2018 at 20:35
edited Jan 30, 2018 at 09:03

Showed that the birth of 542,363 illegitimate children in Malaysia were registered during the 2006 to June 30, 2017 period.

What is happening to Malaysia? Illegitimate children are left to suffer in silence without any legal recourse. Is it a result of poor education?
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answered on Jan 10, 2018 at 21:33
showed that the birth of 542,363 illegitimate children in Malaysia were registered...

Because so many children are illegitimate, most of their classmates are also illegitimate so nobody feel shy or suffer.
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answered on Feb 21, 2018 at 20:56
edited Dec 28, 2018 at 23:35
Why choose fatwa over civil laws? UN committee asks Putrajaya

Legal Read

Malaysia’s progress in women’s rights

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The Malaysian government should state the legality of Islamic edicts or fatwas and why they take precedence over civil laws despite not being legally binding, a United Nations (UN) committee has said.

The question was posed by Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, the vice-chair of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) committee in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday during a review of Malaysia’s progress on women’s rights which was broadcast live.

The committee had referred to the National Registration Department’s (NRD) refusal to allow Muslim children born within six months of their parents’ marriage, to take their father’s names and instead using the “bin Abdullah” suffix often associated with illegitimate children.

It pointed out that if the child cannot take the father’s name, it would also mean that she may not be conferred with Malaysian nationality — thus contravening Article 9 of CEDAW that regulates equal rights on nationality.

“Why does the government not abide by the state laws that obligates the registration of every child upon birth, and conferring nationality, when it is a Malaysian man [who is the father]?

“And why does the government with administrative powers over the national registration department, prefer the religious fatwa rather than the civil law?” Halperin-Kaddari asked.

She also questioned the Malaysian delegation if the situation would change following the landmark Federal Court’s verdict in the M. Indira Gandhi case, which ruled that the civil courts still hold the final say, even in matters concerning Islamic laws.

Halperin-Kaddari then pointed out that issues pertaining to children’s nationality and birth registration is therefore “obviously a constitutional issue”.

Arik Sanusi Yeop Johari from the Attorney-General’s Chambers however said that the team was unable to deliberate or explain the matter, claiming subjudice as the “bin Abdullah” case is currently pending in the Federal Court.

Halperin-Kaddari then again pressed the delegation to answer as a mere matter of “principle”, the possibility of challenging a religious edict by way of a judicial review.

However, Arik maintained his initial reply, which frustrated another committee member who then questioned the Malaysian delegation on the actual position of Malaysia — whether it is a secular or theocratic nation.

“Malaysia is supposed to be a republican state. Not a theocratic state, and it must be made very clear that laws of the state prevail over religious laws,” Philippine representative and rapporteur, Rosario G. Manalo said, lamenting that Arik’s reply was not acceptable.

“If it’s a theocratic state, that’s the end of a democratic state, but it claims to be a republic. Therefore the state law prevails. So give me a clear answer, otherwise I put you in doubt,” she added.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy state.

The committee had earlier also questioned a fatwa against women’s rights group Sisters in Islam, asking whether it is in line with Putrajaya’s obligation to provide for peaceful and pluralist public spheres.

The group had filed in 2014 for judicial review of a gazetted fatwa in Selangor that declared the group as “deviants” in Islam due to their alleged religious liberalism and pluralism.

In Muslim jurisprudence, a fatwa only stands as an opinion of a learned scholar. However in Malaysia a fatwa issued by a state mufti will be made law if gazetted.

On the federal level, the muftis also join a conference of the National Islamic Council’s fatwa committee that would formulate binding fatwa.

Countries party to CEDAW are obliged to send regular status reports on the implementation of the treaty, to be reviewed by a committee of experts which will engage in dialogue with government representatives.

Malaysia’s progress in women’s rights was reviewed only for the second time today, despite acceding to CEDAW in 1995. The last review was 12 years ago for its 2004 report.

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answered on Oct 23, 2018 at 09:11
edited Jan 16, 2019 at 01:16
911 babies dumped since 2010

Since 2010, more than 900 newborn babies were abandoned in the country. Of that number, nearly 600 of them had died, says the Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Ministry.

Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh said 911 baby dumping cases were recorded from 2010 to August this year.

“From the 911, only 326 babies were found alive while 585 or 64% were not,” she said in reply to Kasthuri Pattoo (PH-Batu Kawan) during Question Time.

She revealed that Selangor had the highest number of baby dumping cases with 215 recorded, followed by Sabah (113), Johor (104) and Kuala Lumpur (83).

Kasthuri was asking about the number of baby dumping cases and what was the citizenship status of these babies and realistic measures to curb baby dumping.

Yeoh said babies who were rescued by the Welfare Department would be placed in a foster parent programme.

She said 80% of the babies were adopted through the programme.

The remaining 20% of the children usually remained with the Welfare Department as they might have health issues which prevented families from adopting them.

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answered on Dec 28, 2018 at 18:27
Divorced dads face contempt of court if they refuse to pay maintenance for kids

December 27, 2018 10:18 PM

PETALING JAYA: Family law practitioners say aggrieved ex-wives can seek leave from courts to start contempt proceedings against their ex-husbands who fail to pay for maintenance of the children until they have completed their tertiary studies.

Lawyer Sharmila Sekaran said this applies to any situation where a court grants an order and that person does not follow the order.

“The father has to appear in court and explain to the judge why he’s not following the court order,” she told FMT.

Sharmila said recent amendments to the civil marriages law requires divorced fathers to pay for the maintenance of their children until they have completed their university studies.

It was gazetted recently after amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 2017.

Section 95 of the act has been amended. After “physical or mental disabilities”, the words “or is pursuing further or higher education or training” have been inserted. Also, after “ceasing of such disability”, the words “or completion of such further or such higher education or training” have been added.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) vice-president Meera Samanther agreed with Sharmila, saying that any divorced father who fails to pay maintenance could now be held in contempt of court.

“The judge can issue a warrant of arrest for this offence.”

She said there was also another alternative which could be taken to enforce the law if the father refused to cooperate.

“The spouse (wife) can make a fresh application for an attachment of earnings’ order while he is in contempt of court.

“Second, she can also make a fresh application to garnish (deduct payments from) the husband’s bank account.”

Full Story:
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