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Thread: Can we trust UMNO: How did ‘withdrawn’ religious bill get to Parliament?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Can we trust UMNO: How did ‘withdrawn’ religious bill get to Parliament?

    UMNO is like a virus, ready to attack whenever you lower your guard. The other strategy is to create a ridiculous diversion to see how far the people are ready to resist. If they find resistance too strong, they will make a strategic retreat and wait for the next opportunity when you lower your guard. This is psychological warfare waged against you paid for by your money.

    Welcome to the Rat Race.

    How did ‘withdrawn’ religious bill get to Parliament?

    July 1, 2013
    Upko president Bernard Dompok said the present Bill "contravenes the Federal Constitution and runs counter to the Government’s transformation plans".
    PENAMPANG: The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which was tabled in Parliament last Wednesday has shocked former Upko lawmaker, Bernard Dompok.
    “I am surprised and disappointed that this Bill has been approved by Cabinet for tabling at Parliament.
    “A few months ago I asked for its withdrawal as I felt that an earlier cabinet decision on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 should instead be implemented.
    “The cabinet paper was withdrawn, and I am therefore surprised that it is now in Parliament,” he said in a statement to Borneoinsider.
    Dompok said the present Bill “contravene the Federal Constitution and runs counter to the Government’s transformation plans” especially the 1Malaysia concept of acceptance, inclusiveness and moderation.”
    He said Upko lawmakers will insist that the Bill be withdrawn from Parliament and a full discussion by the Barisan National on this and related religious issues be initiated before any Bill is presented to Parliament.
    The Bill has drawn all-round criticism.
    Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing also described the proposed amendments to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) on the conversion of minors as a “flagrant violation of the equality of persons’ provisions of the federal constitution”.
    Diabolic move
    The amendments, hinging on the use of the word ‘parent’ instead of ‘parents’, makes it legal for a father or a mother, or guardian, to convert children below the age of 18 to a religion of proprietary choice.
    Tan wondered if there was not an element of diabolism in the intent of the framers of the amendment who he said knew that the word ‘parent’ can also be construed as a collective noun like ‘crowd’, and hence, when push comes to shove, they could limit its meaning to one of the two progenitors – father or mother – or a guardian.
    “This shows the mala fide of the framers of the amendments.
    “I understand this amendment contravenes a decision by the cabinet announced on April 23, 2009 that a single parent cannot convert a minor,” said the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese.
    “If so, this would not be the first time that the cabinet is overridden by civil service functionaries – the main drivers of creeping Islamisation in this country,” charged the Jesuit-trained prelate.
    He also said the proposed amendment volated the commitment to gender equality.
    Tan warned that the vote on the bill will be a litmus test of the fidelity to the Federal Constitution of legislators elected to Malaysia’s 13th Parliament.
    The MCA has meanwhile slammed the “stealthy” tabling of the amendment in the Federal Territories Islamic law.
    “I am shocked to learn that the government is tabling the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill as it contains controversial provisions that affects the constitutional and religious rights of the non-Muslim,” said MCA vice president Gan Ping Sieu.
    “This will seriously and irredeemably affect the religious harmony and national unity of our country,” he said.
    Malaysian Bar Council president Christopher Leong also argued that the amendment was “unconstitutional” as the federal constitution provides that such words in contention refer to the plural.
    Leong cited Article 160 and the eleventh schedule of the federal constitution that expressly provides that all words appearing in the federal constitution which are stated in one gender also include the other gender, and all words in the singular also include the plural.
    MIC has echoed its BN partner MCA in expressing “shock” over the bill related to child conversion laws, saying it is “unacceptable” and that they had not been consulted on the matter.
    MIC national treasurer Jaspal Singh had this to say: “Clearly there was not a process of consultation with all relevant parties; otherwise we would have pointed out the unfairness of this particular clause,” he said in a statement yesterday.
    Jaspal said the law could be abused by angry spouses to convert a child as a form of revenge.
    “Conversion could also be done to unfairly gain custody of the children, because surely the Syariah Court will grant custody to the Muslim parent,” he added.


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    A betrayal of trust

    Posted by Sheila Santharamohana on 11 July 2013 Add comments

    Where religion should help us find peace and spirituality, and be our moral compass, it is now a tool of spite and hegemony, laments Sheila Santharamohana.
    Muhyiddin Yassin: Bill will be deferred until all stakeholders have had a say – Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
    What is a parent’s greatest fear? As a mother and one-time single parent, I can only speak for myself but surely the loss of a child is the foremost nightmare of any parent.

    How could I forgive myself if I lost him forever to kidnappers or if he went missing or was sexually assaulted or harmed through my neglect or selfishness? What if I thwarted his emotional well-being and confidence by my harsh words, actions or inattention?

    Now that my son is in his teens, I have new fears – that he will not be happy because I might have denied him the chance to be himself or the ability to make sound and ethical choices. Not being particularly wise or religious myself, I hope I am imparting the ethics, values and wisdom so he can grow independently in thought and action.

    But there are more ways to lose a child than a parent can foresee. When my first marriage became an indifferent one and we both parted ways, I knew that this was dangerous terrain especially as it involved an unreliable ex-spouse and the only grandchild of both families.

    I had custody and legal guardianship but every time my non-Muslim ex-husband claimed his visitation rights, the thought was never far that he might do the unconscionable and convert to Islam to gain custody. Too clearly, I knew there would be nothing I could do, as the state would not be on my side. So when news arrived that he had married a non-Muslim, no one was happier than I.

    Divorced mothers and fathers would have a good reason to feel the way I did. I had read about R Subashini’s case of 2006 where her husband, a convert during their marriage, applied to divorce her and gain custody of the child according to Syariah law. She failed to overturn her husband’s divorce application and the conversion of her four-year-old.

    I had also read about Shamala Sathiyaseelan who, in 2004, was told by the court to raise her children in accordance to Islamic practices even after it was held that the conversion, occurring while the couple was married under civil law, should have had the consent of both parents (Bar Council:‘Unilateral conversions of minors are unconstitutional’, 19 June 2013).

    Unsurprisingly, Subashini has given up life in Malaysia just so that she can keep her children with her and raise them in a more equitable country. Now, S Deepa faces the same quandary.

    I had also read about children who were sent to government orphanages and converted without their consent. Then there are children who were converted by one parent who as adults have been denied their rights to renounce the religion foisted upon them.

    What is the fate of these unfortunate individuals whose lives have been hijacked by their own parents and the state? Do they get sent to ‘rehabilitation centres’ to resign themselves to their fate?

    The new bill, the Administration of Islamic Law (FT) 2013, was withdrawn yesterday from being tabled in Parliament. It was every parent’s nightmare (‘Revoke controversial clause of Islamic bill’, Free Malaysia Today, 3 July 2013). It would have taken from us the right to make any decisions for our most precious, our children.

    Sneakily passed by the cabinet, it hovered threateningly, championed by demagogues and ambitious politicians eager to score points. Now the DPM says it is to be deferred until all stakeholders have had a say before it is tabled again.

    I do not know about you, but I have little faith in the words of politicians. Our DPM states that, “[t]he government believes Islam is a just religion for all humans and the status of the religion of the children should be resolved in a just manner, based on the justice principles of Islam” (Malaysiakini. 6 July 2013).

    There are so many problems with that statement: from the fact that the government, a non-religious institution, should not make decisions on the lives of citizens or undermine the constitution, to the notion that conversions of non-Muslims will be resolved according to the principles of Islam.

    Surely, the whole contention here is whether S Deepa’s children are actually Muslims. I wonder who gets to be the arbiter of a ‘just’ outcome – the civil or the syariah court?

    A statement that the bill is to be deferred is cold comfort. In fact, every parent should feel vulnerable with the DPM’s statement on the withdrawal of the bill’s ‘controversial amendments’.

    After the spate of child marriages and acquitted rapists, there is little evidence that the law and state will ensure the welfare and safety of our children. Like the other mothers, Subashini and Shamala, S. Deepa will probably be dragged to court for years; the lives or her children and her own to be intruded upon time and again by various authorities.

    Syariah law gives the father guardianship status over the mother regardless if he is a fit parent. In S Deepa’s case, her husband, an ex-convict, makes a comeback having deserted the mother and neglected his children for nine years. Now, having just finished his jail term, he convincingly lies to the authorities on his wife’s ‘debauchery’ after kidnapping his children from their kindergarten.

    As for Ustaz Zul of the Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Paroi, the ‘learned’ man never once questioned the legality of his own actions or that of the father or attempted to ascertain the truth. He, in his infinite ‘wisdom’ decided that the children’s welfare would be best served by being with their felonious father instead of the mother who had clothed, housed and fed them for eight years. Who bestowed upon Ustaz Zul the authority to make such decisions?

    Mothers and fathers everywhere, you have good reason to fear if your ex-spouse is treacherous, spiteful or conniving. Quite frankly, this bill, amended or deferred, still exists. It doesn’t care about our children and their or your rights. It doesn’t care about real lives or about those it affects.

    The current doublespeak on this bill is an insult. Where religion should help us find peace and spirituality, and be our moral compass, it is now a tool of spite and hegemony. Surely, this just underscores how religion is constantly corrupted by the hypocrisy of those who purportedly hold it closest to heart.


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