Amend law to resolve controversy on unilateral conversion, says Dr Wee

  • Nation
  • Friday, 5 Apr 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a need for a clear interpretation of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act in order to avoid any controversy when a parent unilaterally converts a child to Islam, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The MCA president said the issue of conversion has caused many unnecessary social problems when a parent unilaterally converted a child to fight for custody.

"Since the Federal Court's ruling that the unilateral conversion of minors is unlawful in the case of M. Indira Gandhi, the country needs to amend the law to resolve all controversies surrounding this issue," Dr Wee said.

Last January, the Federal Court nullified the unilateral conversion of Indira Gandhi's three children by her ex-husband.

Then Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who chaired a five-man panel, said the decision was unanimous.

"The panel unanimously ruled that consent of both parents must be sought for the conversion of children below 18 years and no unilateral conversion is allowed by either parent, " Dr Wee said in a post on Facebook.

The Ayer Hitam MP and former minister in the prime minister's department said the then-Barisan Nasional Cabinet had agreed  to amend the Act and expected it to be made after GE14.

It had proposed for the addition of Clause 88a(1) which stipulates: Where the party to a marriage has converted to Islam, the religion of any child of  the marriage shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion, except where both parties to the marriage agree to a conversion of the child to Islam, subject always to the wishes of the child where he or she has attained the age of 18 years.

Dr Wee said he was disappointed with the new government for not going ahead with the amendment.

On Thursday (April 4), Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said there were no plans to amend the Act to deal with the unilateral conversion of minors.

Dr Wee said the proposed amendment was from former minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and that the then Barisan Cabinet had agreed to it.

"Only when there is a clear interpretation of the Act stating that the consent of both parents must be sought, can we prevent confusion or controversy surrounding this issue," he said.

Dr Wee said the amendment when passed would solve problems related to a child's religion and custody.