PR to form religious committee

(The Edge) – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will form a religious committee to look into custody rights and freedom of religion in the light of the Indira Ghandi case.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the cabinet had come to its decision to allow the children of one converted parent to remain in the religion of the parents at the time of their marriage, without taking into account important factors or reference to certain quarters such as the ulamaks, religious leaders, civil society, academicians, law practitioners and PR.

"We suggest that there should be a musyawarah ("discussion") amongst those quarters to look into all aspects.

"We also agreed that a special committee look into the matter more closely to solve the disagreement in a comprehensive manner.

"This includes scrutinising the religious enactment of all states thoroughly," Anwar told a press conference at the PKR headquarters here today.

The coalition agreed that Islam upholds the right to freedom of worship and Islam does not allow religious coercion.

"We also agreed that it is the mother who should naturally care for the small children as what was decided in the courts and also in Indira Gandhi's case," Anwar said.

PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, who was also present, said the cabinet made a wrong decision without reference to religious leaders.

"There is no compulsion in religion but the right of the father is not severed. The father and child relationship cannot be separated," he said.

Asked on whether MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is joining PKR, Anwar said: "It is still in the journey. He has not reached yet."

Commenting on the Election Commission (EC) ruling of not allowing "pondok panas" and limiting the number of supporters on nomination day to 5,000 people, Hadi regarded the new rules as stifling democracy.

"The election process is not clean in our country but we continue to participate. We consider the new ruling as helping Barisan Nasional (BN). There was no worrying matter throughout the elections. There is no need for the new ruling as it stifles democracy," said Hadi.