Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 - PAS Selangor is more moderate than BN, UMNO and DPM Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin

DAP opposes any unilateral conversion of children by a single parent to any religion whether it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism. DAP position is that both parents’ consent must be obtained for a legally valid religious conversion for children under 18 as provided for under Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.

PAS Selangor is more moderate than BN, UMNO and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin by declaring that conversion of children below 18 requires consent of both parents and not one parent. Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman opposed unilateral child conversions to Islam, saying such a “big” decision needed the consent of both parents.

This contrasts with Tan Sri Muhyidin’s defense of the unilateral child conversions in the proposed ADMINISTRATION OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM (FEDERAL TERRITORIES) BILL 2013 is done in accordance with existing laws and that the scope has changed. There is no doubt that Tan Sri Muhyidin is wrong as unilateral child conversion is unconstitutional by violating Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.

The Bar Council states that the Federal Constitution refers to both parents and not as proposed in this Bill, which intends to broaden the definition of parental consent in the conversion of children under the age of 18 to mean either instead of both parents. In April 2009, then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz reaffirmed the constitutional provision that banned unilateral conversion by any single parent of minors to Islam, requiring the consent of both parents.

Clearly this BN position in 2009 was a malicious and deceptive trick played by BN to hoodwink voters before the 2013 general elections. Once the general elections were over, BN had no moral compunction to betray the voters by changing their position.

DAP leaders will be holding dialogues and meetings with affected groups on the impact of such an unconstitutional provision in the Bill. DAP stresses that DAP does not oppose any clauses that deals with the welfare of those who are Muslims, but only those provisions that impinge, impair and deprive the constitutional rights of non-Muslims.

Other concerns raised by non-Muslim religious groups include whether the proposed Bill expands the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts in Malaysia beyond what is provided for the Federal Constitution. Syariah courts have jurisdiction only over “persons professing the religion of Islam”. Their lawyers contend that Parliament cannot and should not purport to expand its own jurisdiction and that of the Syariah courts to cover those who are not Muslims, by means of an over-expansive definition that goes beyond the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

Lim Guan Eng DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan