KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 which is aimed at amending the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 or (Act 164) does not deny the power of the Syariah courts against those who embrace Islam or converts.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the amendment only provided the opportunity for converts to dissolve their marriages through civil proceedings, as the existing provision did not apply to them.
“Apart from that, the marriage of a person prior to him/her embracing Islam under Act 164 should also be dissolved under the same act.
“Hence, the question of the power of the Syariah court been taken away with the amendment of the Bill, does not arise,” she said when winding up the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 at the Dewan Negara here today.
The bill was then approved by the Dewan Negara.On Aug 10, the Dewan Rakyat passed the bill that granted the rights to husband or wife who have converted to Islam to file a petition for divorce, to dissolve his or her civil marriage under subsection 51 (1) of the Bill.
It is also aimed at safeguarding the interest and giving justice to both parties to resolve all issues arising from the dissolution of the marriage, including the welfare of the children and their future.
Meanwhile, Azalina, in a statement, said that the amendment was not in conflict with any provisions in the Federal Constitution as alleged by some parties.
Therefore, she said, the issue that the amendment List II of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution does not arise because when either one of the couple converts to Islam they were still able to refer to the civil court on matters relating to the dissolution of marriage made under civil law.
“In this regard, I hope all parties understand the amendment first before making any statement. This is important for the sake of the wellbeing of the society, and that the government will not compromise with the sovereignty of Islam as the religion of the Federation, she said.