Azalina: In case of inconsistency, federal law shall prevail over state law

KOTA TINGGI: The Federal Constitution rules supreme above all state laws, even in cases of the unilateral conversion of a child.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Bill tabled by the Government to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (LRA) about two weeks ago was timely and must be seen as a positive step.

“Once this amendment is passed, it becomes federal law and it should be noted that Article 75 of the Federal Constitution provides that when any state law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail over the state law,” she said in a statement.

Azalina was commenting on the amendments made this week by the Perlis state assembly to the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006, allowing one parent to convert a child to Islam.

She said the proposed amendments to the LRA were still under the consideration of the Dewan Rakyat, and MPs would debate all issues pertaining to the matter once the second reading was done in the coming session in March.

She said that according to the Attorney-General, the word “parent” could be read in the singular, which is mother or father but there are lawyers who argue that the word can be used to represent them both as a process.

She said it was pertinent to note that there were three more state enactments in the peninsula, namely in Selangor, Penang and Terengganu, that stated that both parents’ consent was needed to convert a child to Islam.

“I hope all parties will look at this proposed amendments objectively and avoid politicising the LRA Bill,” she said.

On Thursday, the Perlis legislative assembly passed the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Amendment) Enactment 2016.

In Section 117, the phrase in Malay, “father and mother or guardian” was amended to “father or mother or guardian” as those who can give consent to the conversion of children under 18 to Islam.

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