KUALA LUMPUR: The contentious clause covering child conversion was dropped from the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 (LRA) because it contravenes the Federal Constitution, says Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (pic).
The Tourism and Culture Minister said in order for Clause 88A to be included in the LRA, the Government has to amend the Constitution.
“The reason why we dropped the clause is because we would be forced to amend the definition of 'parent', which is clearly stated in the Constitution as 'either one'.
“There have been four precedent cases whereby the court's decision was based on the Constitution's definition of 'parent',” he said.
Nazri, who was former law minister, said for the Government to amend the Constitution, it would need the approval of a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
“But the nine clauses in the Bill are good for non-Muslim family matters,” he told reporters at the Malaysian Tourism Centre in Jalan Ampang here Tuesday.
The LRA was deferred for the second time since it was tabled in November to resolve the issue.
The decision to withdraw the Bill was announced on Monday by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said shortly after question and answer time.
Azalina, who is minister in charge of law, issued a press statement later saying that a fresh Bill would be tabled Tuesday.
The new Bill will not include the proposed Clause 88A which states that the religion of the child “shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion”.
The clause also provides that the child can, after turning 18 and with the consent of both parents, convert to Islam.
However, the fresh Bill is expected to maintain amendments that require a spouse to dissolve the marriage in a civil court when a party has converted.This right is open to both spouses.