Thursday, July 2, 2009

MPs concerned over amendments to laws on religious conversion

Data Source :

MPs have raised concerns over the proposed amendments to three laws on religious conversion, saying that the matter must be handled with care.

“In a civilised society, it is essential to have freedom of religion in line with basic human rights,” Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing (BN – Tuaran) said.
“The matter is now back at the discussion table. I hope there will be a good solution to all,” he said when debating the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Amendment) (Amendment) Bill.

The suggested amendments to the conversion laws were not tabled this time around, as more time was required to review them.

M. Kulasegaran (DAP – Ipoh Barat) said the issue of religious conversion had caused problems to the families involved where children were often caught in the tussle. This had led to much heartache, he added.

At the Parliament lobby, Lim Kit Siang (DAP – Ipoh Timur) said the Cabinet should call for an emergency meeting by next month to push through amendments to the religious conversion laws.

The Cabinet, he said, had to resolve the issue fast because unilateral conversions had wreaked havoc on the family structure and affected racial unity.

It had been a very polarising and divisive matter, he told reporters.

On Tuesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz announced that the Government was putting on hold the amendments to hear the views of state religious councils.

The three laws are the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, the Administration of Islamic (Federal Territories) Islamic Law and the Islamic Family (Federal Territories) Law.

Lim said there could be more cases of family disunity as a result of religious conversion until Parliament sat again in October.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz (PAS – Pokok Sena) said time should be given to Rulers for their feedback on the issue.

PAS has disagreed with the Cabinet’s decision, saying that the courts should decide on the children’s religion and not the Cabinet.

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