KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional component party leaders have slammed the Perlis government for passing a legislation to allow for unilateral conversion of a minor to Islam.
MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said unilateral conversions had been “the central core of discord” in many cases, citing kindergarten teacher Indira Ghandi’s custodial dispute case in 2015.
“While the federal cabinet has been trying to find a permanent solution to an issue which has been identified as a major thorn in inter-religious relationships in this country, this act by a BN government is a major step backwards to religious harmony in this country.
“It is going to cause greater disunity among the people of Malaysia,” he said in a statement today. Prior to the amendment, Perlis’ Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006 required the consent of both the father and mother for the conversion of a child under the age of 18.
It was reported that Section 117 of the enactment, with the phrase in the Malay version “father and mother or guardian” was changed to “father or mother or guardian” to give consent for children under 18 years old to be converted to Islam.
The amendment comes just weeks after a bill was tabled in Parliament to prevent from unilateral conversion of a child.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said the party was “exceedingly disappointed and dismayed” that the Perlis state legislative assembly had passed the amendment.
“This amended enactment contravenes the aims and the spirit of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Bill 2016 tabled by the federal government which is intended to secure the constitutional rights of non-Muslims.
“The Perlis state lawmakers should have followed the bill to be in line with the federal bill, rather than trying to subjugate it,” he said in a statement.
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