KUALA LUMPUR: Religion must not be used as a tool for a spouse to evade responsibilities in a civil marriage, said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
Nazri, who sat in a Cabinet committee set up to look into the issue of unilateral child conversions, said:
“When there is a problem in the marriage, and the spouse converts to Islam, thinking that the problem will be resolved. How can that be?
“You settle your problems first and then you convert, that is the right thing to do.”
Speaking to reporters yesterday about the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill, Nazri said it would stress that marriages under the civil laws must be dissolved in civil courts.
“It is good for Malaysia. And I think it is the responsibility, as a Muslim leader in Malaysia, to guard the interest of non-Muslims,” he said.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said the Bill reflected the Government’s responsibility in addressing problems about unilateral conversions.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the Bill was long overdue as the issue had become critical over the years.
“We want to put a stop to this so that there is a solution for anyone who converts to Islam. They have to resolve their obligations in the civil marriage as well as responsibility as the ex-husband and father,” he said.
Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said they owed this outcome to the collective effort of the Government, political parties and groups against unilateral conversions.
She urged MPs from both sides of the divide to support the Bill.
MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the tabling of the Bill to outlaw unilateral conversion was a “win” for the party.
“We are quite happy with the amendment. Both parents will have to agree before a child can be converted (to another religion). If they can’t (agree), then the child gets to decide once he or she reaches 18,” she said.
The Bill, she said, would ensure matters linked to a civil marriage could be settled in a civil court.
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