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Interfaith Council Stresses Need To Address Unilateral Conversion

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PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has welcomed planned amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, but stresses that specific reasons for disputes need to be addressed.

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the amendments would be based on three principles, including ensuring that those who went through a civil marriage settled their divorce in a civil court first.

The consultative council, although welcoming the move, raised factors that it said needed to be clarified.

“The PM does not mention that conversion of minors issue will be addressed while the Cabinet decision in April 2009 had stated that a single parent cannot convert a minor of a marriage.

“The Cabinet had proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce Act) 1976 but sadly, in both proposed amendments, a single parent was still allowed to convert a child of marriage without obtaining the other spouse’s consent MCCBCHST said, adding that the “the root cause of the problem is the conversion of minors by a single parent”.

The council also questioned whether the Cabinet would abide by its April 2009 decision that both parents must consent before a child of civil marriage can be converted to another religion.

“This is the crux of the problem. Therefore, the PM must assure that the proposed amendments will address this issue and a single parent cannot convert a minor without the consent of the other spouse,” MCCBCHST said.

The council further requested that the copies of the Bill to be tabled be made available to the public as well as MCCBCHST.


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