Wednesday, July 3, 2013

MCA calls for withdrawal of Child Conversion Bill

MCA has called for the government to withdraw the controversial Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which allow minors to be converted with the consent of only one parent.

In making the call, its president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the government should get feedback from all relevant parties before making any further decision on the Bill.

“Public consultation is crucial before deciding on any policies that will affect the nation,” he said in a statement.

He said that the party's stand on the issue was very clear, namely that the Bill infringed on the rights of non-Muslims.

However, Dr Chua expressed confidence that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would discuss the Bill with all Barisan component parties soon after fierce objections from the MCA, MIC as well as the public.

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“Although MCA no longer holds any position in the Cabinet, we will still ensure the interests of the Chinese community is secured and maintained,” he said.

MCA vice president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also said the Government should consider more consultation with religious bodies before making a decision on the matter.

"MCA MPs will present our views on the matter in Cabinet and we hope the Cabinet can review the Bill," he said after a meeting with members of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) at Wisma MCA on Wednesday.

In the hour-long meeting, Liow and the members discussed Clause 107 of the Bill, a provision allowing a child to be converted with the consent of only one parent.

Meanwhile, MCCBCHST president Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow said the clause would infringe on the rights of non-Muslims.

"We are firm in our stand that the Bill must be withdrawn and religious bodies be further consulted on the provisions," he said.

Jagir Singh, the council's deputy president and legal panel head, also called for the removal of Section 51(3)(b) subclause (X) and (XI) in the Bill, which allows the Syariah Court to determine whether a deceased person was Muslim.

"Should there be a contest to facts of a case, non-Muslims cannot argue their case in a Syariah Court.

"It is only right that the power to decide on this matter be left to the civil court," he said.

Various other groups have voiced their opposition to the Bill, saying that it was not only unconstitutional but went against an April 2009 Cabinet decision whereby children of an estranged couple should remain in the "common religion of the time of their marriage".

The Bill is expected to be tabled for second reading during the current Parliament session.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had given assurance that all parties, including BN component members, would be consulted before any decision on the Bill was made.

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