PUTRAJAYA: The withdrawal of Clause 88A in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 should not be seen as a “Government U-turn”, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The MCA president said the clause, which prohibits the unilateral conversion of a child to Islam, could not be approved by the Attorney-General because it is in conflict with provisions in the Federal Constitution.
However, Liow said the passing of the Bill – albeit without Clause 88A – still resolves the issue of divorce if a spouse converts to Islam.
“Many accused the Government of making a ‘U-turn’ when Clause 88A was removed. This is not so.
“The amendment was not only on the issue of the unilateral conversion, but also on the issue of divorce,” he said.
“The issue of unilateral conversion will be resolved later, as we have to address the Federal Constitution first,” Liow said.
“To accuse the Government of not having the political will to prohibit unilateral conversion is wrong. We are not back to square one on this. In fact, we have taken a big step.
“Out of two main issues, we have managed to settle one,” he told reporters at his ministry after attending the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Liow said MCA would keep fighting hard to ensure that the unilateral conversion would not be allowed.
It would also engage with NGOs to gather feedback and suggestions on the matter, he added.
On another matter, Liow said any decision to resume the search for Flight MH370 would only be jointly made by Malaysia, China and Australia.
Commenting on the proposal by US-based firm Ocean Infinity to hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, he said the proposition was “only at a preliminary stage”.
“Yes, the company has approached the DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) with the proposal.
“However, whatever decision is to be made, can only be done by the tripartite committee,” said Liow.
The three countries decided to suspend the three-year-long search for the plane after 120,000sq km of the southern Indian Ocean was scoured and the aircraft still could not be found.
MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
At the Patriotic Gathering of Young Malaysians in Petaling Street later, Liow urged Malaysians to have faith in the country and support the Government’s efforts to transform the nation.
“We must have faith in the country. If we’re positive, we’ll influence others around us to be positive,” he said during the event leading up to the 60th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence.
Liow also told the 10,000-strong crowd that the country was on the right track to success.
“With the completion of the first MRT line, the construction of the second and third MRT lines and extension of the LRT to Klang, Kuala Lumpur is transforming into Greater Kuala Lumpur.
“I don’t think (the founder of Kuala Lumpur) Kapitan Yap Ah Loy could have imagined the city today,” said Liow, who is Transport Minister.
Also present were MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, national youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon, and national shuttlers Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Goh Liu Ying.