Move to set up committee to discuss laws to benefit children

Source: The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR : A mediation committee comprising Muslims and non-Muslims should be set up to implement the provisions of the amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) deputy chief executive officer Prof. Madya Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil said this would enable parties to negotiate to reach a consensus to benefit children.

He also said the coordination of administrative aspects of the Syariah Court needed to be streamlined through the role of Malaysia Syariah Judiciary Department without affecting Islamic religion in other states.

“This mechanism should be implemented to ensure that efforts to upgrade the Syariah Court jurisdiction through Bill 355 can be realised,” he said. Read more

Dewan Negara passes Act 164 (Amendment) Bill, says Azalina

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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. Read more

Make it right for all — Shaila Koshy

Source: The Star Online

BY SHAILA KOSHY

Pic from The Star Online

The newly passed Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Bill failed to settle the controversy over the unilateral conversion of minors but is it a total loss?

FAMILIES which were torn asunder after one parent in a civil marriage converted to Islam see no reason to celebrate the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) (Amendment) Bill that was passed on Thursday.

M. Indira Gandhi was one of those whose life was upended when her husband converted to Islam in 2009 and proceeded to convert their minor children three weeks later without her knowledge. Weeks later, he took their youngest daughter who was just 11 months old and left. Indira has been walking in and out of the courts since 2009.

She and others in the similar situation were counting on the proposed Section 88A to sort out their problems as it would have invalidated unilateral conversions of minor children.

The Government promised them in 2009 that this matter would be resolved and there were sighs of relief when Section 88A appeared in the Bill that was presented in the Dewan Rakyat last November.

However, that was withdrawn early last week. Section 88A disappeared on grounds it was unconstitutional.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail expressed disappointment saying “the amendment would have resolved interfaith custody conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim parents; and establish coherent standards for reconciling the principle of the best interest of the child with the constitutional rights of parents in the exercise of the right to freedom of religion”. Read more

PAS to moot more changes to marriage amendment Bill before it reaches senate

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — PAS will moot further changes to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act amendments that have been passed by the Dewan Rakyat recently.

PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan said that this will be done before the Bill reaches the senate.

He said in a statement that PAS will arrange to meet Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to discuss the proposed amendments which would “protect Islam and its followers”.

The amendments, known as Act 164 was passed by Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday despite controversy surrounding Putrajaya’s decision to remove an earlier clause in the Bill that prevents unilateral conversion.

PAS were among the parties that demanded that the clause on unilateral conversion be removed from the Bill, but also wanted further amendments in the interest of Islam. Read more

Changes in laws is lasting solution to unilateral conversion, say lawyers

Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: Kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi and spouses in similar predicament will have to wait for a Federal Court ruling whether a parent can unilaterally convert their children, family law practitioners said.

They, however, said it was still desirable in the long term for parliament to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) to stop such conversion when a spouse becomes a Muslim.

The lawyers said an apex court ruling could be departed from by another bench later and the conversion issue would recur.

Lawyer Balwant Singh Sidhu said if the Federal Court in Indira’s appeal correctly decided the interpretation of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, then an amendment to section 88 might not be necessary.

Indira’s lawyer have argued that the consent of both parents are needed when a spouse converts the children of a civil marriage to Islam. Read more

Amend constitution clause on ‘parent’ to fix interfaith custody tussle, Putrajaya urged

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail –File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) called on the federal government to commit itself to recognise the right of both parents amid a continuing controversy over interfaith child custody conflicts in the country.

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail expressed the commission’s regret over the withdrawal of a key clause in the government’s amendment of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act that he said would have been the ideal solution to ban the unilateral conversion of children.

“Suhakam calls on the Government to commit firmly to this issue and to recognise the importance of both parents to have equal parental rights and authority in relation to the religion, custody and upbringing of their children, considering the principle of the best interest of the child.

“Suhakam believes that the remedy lies in an amendment to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution,” Razali said in a statement. Read more

Unilateral conversion: Equal parental rights must be upheld

Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: The government should recognise the importance of both parents having equal parental rights regarding the religion of their children, says the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia(Suhakam).

In a statement today, the independent statutory body expressed its disappointment over the decision to withdraw a provision in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016, which would have been an effective solution to the unilateral religious conversion of minors by a parent.

“It is our view that the amendment would have resolved interfaith custody conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim parents, and established coherent standards for reconciling the principle of the best interests of the child with the constitutional rights of parents in the exercise of the right to freedom of religion,” said Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail.

The bill in question had included a new provision in regard to the religion of the child, with Section 88A(1) stating that if a parent converts to Islam, the religion of the children remains the same unless both parents agree to the conversion of their children. Read more

DAP man defends marriage and divorce bill

Source: FMT News

M Kulasegaran says the CEO of Centhra needs a tuition on the amendments. Pic form FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran has rejected the opinion that the bill to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) infringes on the liberty of Muslims.

Responding to comments made by Azril Mohd Amin, the CEO of Centhra (Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy), Kulasegaran said: “He has failed to realise that the proposed amendments to outlaw unilateral conversion is to deal with people who register their marriages under civil law and then try to cheat the system by converting.

“He should go and understand what the bill is meant for, and maybe take a law tuition class for that.”

He noted that one of the amendments would give civil courts the power to deal with divorces involving Muslims, including those who convert from another religion after their marriages.

Read more

Govt under fire after marriage and divorce bill delayed

Source: FMT News

Disappointed mother M Indira Gandhi says she waited eight years for justice but it has not come, while an NGO tells the government to stop ‘the wayang kulit’. Pic from FMT News.

Disappointed mother M Indira Gandhi says she waited eight years for justice but it has not come, while an NGO tells the government to stop ‘the wayang kulit’. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The decision to defer amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 today brings added frustration to M Indira Gandhi, whose ex-husband converted their three children to Islam without her knowledge eight years ago.

The bill had been listed in the order paper for second reading at the Dewan Rakyat today. However, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi later said it would not be tabled at the current Parliament sitting.

According to a report in The Sun daily, Zahid said the bill must be studied in detail and feedback must be obtained from relevant quarters to prevent a conflict with Islamic fatwa and the Federal Constitution.

The bill was first tabled on Nov 21, 2016.

At a press conference at the Dewan Rakyat Media centre today, Indira said she was very disappointed by the delay. Read more

Child marriage is not acceptable — Marianne Clark-Hattingh

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Marianne Clark-Hattingh is the UNICEF representative in Malaysia

Marianne Clark-Hattingh is the UNICEF representative in Malaysia

APRIL 6 — UNICEF is outraged by statements uttered during the debate on the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 claiming that it is okay for children to marry their rapists and that girls as young as 9 or 12 years old are ready for marriage.

It is not acceptable for a child to get married. Under no circumstances should child marriage be used as an excuse for rape or as a defence by alleged child sexual perpetrators to avoid facing prosecution. UNICEF does not condone in any way and is against using child marriage to cover up or ‘normalise’ rape, sexual abuse or teenage sex or worse to avoid the prosecution of perpetrators.

Scientific and medical evidence indicate that a girl who is not yet 18 is not physically and mentally ready to have children, to care for them and look after a family. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide, accounting for some 50,000 deaths each year. Girls between 10 -14 years of age are 5 times more likely than women aged 20 – 24 to die in pregnancy and childbirth.

Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights that impacts all aspects of a child’s life, especially girls. In Malaysia and elsewhere in the world, child marriage denies girl and boys their childhood, disrupts education, limits opportunities, increases the risk of violence and jeopardises health. Read more