KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — A Barisan Nasional (BN) MP has joined opposition leaders in demanding that Putrajaya reinstate the clause banning unilateral child conversions in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017.
In his speech in Parliament last night, MCA’s Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Wee Jeck Seng called on Putrajaya to consider reinstating Section 88A, pointing out that the problems arising from unilateral conversions would not end without the clause.
“Generally we know that the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 does not have any changes except the new Section 88A being aborted.
“I propose that the opinions of the child concerned is included during consideration in the civil courts, especially the religion of the children, in the best interest of the child,” he added.
“The last point which I also would like to raise is the abortion of Section 88A. I request that the government which always puts its people first to reconsider that this section is reinserted in this coming amendments. This is because the unilateral conversion issues would still be left hanging without a solution,” Wee said.
Wee also suggested that Section 12 of the LRA Bill which grants equal rights to both parents on matters relating to marriage be expanded to include other matters such as welfare, custody, education and religion.
“This is to ensure that the rights of the non-Muslim spouse is guaranteed, and at the very least, they can jointly give opinions on matters of welfare, custody, education and religion of their children.
Earlier, Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran gave a fiery speech in the House, questioning the sincerity of the BN government in wanting to resolve the issue.
“We all know this is all a play on the side. Many BN MPs are revolting against the decision of the Cabinet, but not brave enough. Say one thing but do another.
“Saying it (Section 88A) is against the Constitution is all a lie,” Kulasegaran who is also a lawyer added.
Ampang MP Zuraidah Kamaruddin also called on the BN government to honour its pledge, assuring the Opposition would give its full support to even amend the term ‘parent’ in the Federal Constitution, to ‘parents’.
“I just want to seek an explanation as to why Section 88A was withdrawn, because under the Constitution, a two-third support is needed from this respected House. But why didn’t you consult us over here to get the support, so this law can be passed? I want to know why this wasn’t brought to us, because we too agree with them (BN).
“If that is done, then Insyallah, Section 88A can be approved with two-thirds,” she added.
The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 — which does not have the proposed Section 88A — is now tabled for a second reading in the Dewan Rakyat.
The 2017 Bill is similar to an earlier version that the government had tabled in Parliament in 2016, but abruptly withdrawn on Monday. The 2016 Bill had included the proposed Section 88A, which made it mandatory for both parents to provide consent before converting their children.