Tensions rise over controversial Bill

Controversy over a Bill allowing for the unilateral religious conversion of minor children with the consent of just one parent continues to boil over in Selangor.

(The Star) – The issue was further complicated when it was also used by some parties to question the leadership of Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari.

Four non-Muslim state executive councillors had an audience with Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah yesterday at Istana Bukit Kayangan, where it is believed the unilateral conversion Bill was one of the subjects discussed.

Led by senior exco DAP’s Datuk Teng Chang Khim, the others in the small entourage were V. Ganabatirau and Ng Sze Han, who are also from DAP, and Hee Loy Sian of PKR.

“But the focus of the discussion was of course on the proposed amendment to the Syariah enactment regarding unilateral conversion of minors, ’’ said the source.

Pakatan Harapan also showed a united front by openly backing Amirudin.

“Selangor Pakatan strongly rejects rumours that have emerged recently involving efforts to replace the state Speaker, cracks between component parties and a move to challenge Amirudin’s leadership.

“The rumours have an evil agenda from our political enemies aimed at destroying unity and harmony of Selangor Pakatan.

“We agreed to continue all our work in implementing our agenda to benefit the people and the state, ” it said in a joint statement endorsed by the state PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

On the same day, in a strongly-worded statement, Selangor DAP chairman Gobind Singh Deo said his party will not support any proposed amendments which allow the unilateral religious conversion of minor children with the consent of just one parent.

Any such attempt in the Selangor state assembly, he said, was unconstitutional as it would be contrary to the Federal Constitution.

He explained that the Federal Court had clearly held in M. Indira Gandhi’s case that consent must be obtained from both parents before a minor is converted.

“As such the individual right of both parents to decide on the religion of their children who are minors, is now constitutionally guaranteed, ’’ said Gobind.

“It is trite that the Federal Constitution is supreme and overrides any provision of other laws which are inconsistent with it.”

Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi, who is Sijangkang assemblyman and the sole PAS elected representative in the Selangor legislative assembly, however, said the proposed amendment to the Syariah enactment should be debated in the assembly.

He said failure of tabling the proposed amendment was reflective of a weak state government.

Meanwhile, MCA said the Selangor state government must withdraw the proposed amendment.

Party spokesperson Chan Quin Er asked Amirudin and the state government to uphold the Federal Constitution and respect the Federal Court’s decision in the Indira Gandhi case.

“MCA reiterates that Article 160, 11th Schedule of the Federal Constitution clearly spells that words in the singular includes the plural and words in the plural includes the singular, ’’ she said.

Chan said that if the state and Federal Government plan to instil the values and goodwill of multiculturalism, then enacting laws to legally permit unilateral conversion of a minor child was “mala fide (in bad faith) and in breach of such values”.