‘Any policy that violates Constitution must be voided’

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 10 Dec 2016

PETALING JAYA: Any state, federal legislation, government policy or guideline that does not abide by the Federal Constitution is deemed ultra vires and must be rendered null and void, said MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said Perlis’ move to pass amendments to the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006 contravened the “aims and spirit” of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016, tabled in Parliament for first reading last month.

The Bill, which included a new Section 88A, specifically states that should one parent embrace Islam, the child’s religion shall remain as the common religion of the parents before the conversion, and conversion to Islam can only be done with the approval of both parents.

“This is MCA’s consistent stand, which we will never compromise on and which we have raised in Cabinet. A minor child’s religion is to be determined by ibu bapa, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution as of 1970,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Wee pointed out that while Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution reads that a minor child’s religion shall be determined by “parent”, Article 160, the 11th Schedule of the Federal Constitution on interpretation, clearly spells out that words in the singular include the plural and vice versa.

“Thus, any state or federal legislation or government policy or guideline which do not abide by the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land, is ultra vires the Federal Constitution and must be rendered null and void,” he added.

Dr Wee said MCA’s stand is that state enactments must be in line with federal legislation, especially in the issue of unilateral conversion, where non-Muslim parents have longed for their rights as parents to be safeguarded.

“The Perlis state lawmakers should have followed the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill to be in line with the Federal Bill rather than trying to subjugate the Bill.

“MCA is determined that the proposed changes and new insertions in the Bill will be passed in the next session of the Dewan Rakyat,” he added.

In the Enactment passed in the Perlis state legislative assembly, Section 117 was changed, with the phrase in the Malay version reading “father and mother or guardian” amended to “father or mother or guardian” to give consent for children under 18 to be converted to Islam.

It also abolished Sections 51 and 52 of the Enactment concerning the decrees issued by and with the consent of the National Fatwa Council.

On the walkout by MCA Titi Tinggi state assemblyman Khaw Hock Kong, Dr Wee said Khaw should have expressed the party’s firm position of ibu bapa during the debate.

“MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has summoned Khaw to provide an explanation to the MCA Central Committee, which will meet on Monday,” said Dr Wee.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon expressed shock over Perlis’ move and said Khaw should explain why he walked out.

“We will wait for his explanation. Only then will we decide what action is to be taken,” he said.

In Kangar, Khaw said he would issue a statement on Monday.

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