Unilateral conversion: Gerakan slams govt for not amending marriage law

  • Nation
  • Friday, 05 Apr 2019

PETALING JAYA: Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai has criticised the government's decision not to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) to deal with the issue of unilateral conversion of minors. 

“Why does Pakatan Harapan have the courage to table a bill seeking to amend the Federal Constitution on the lowering of voter age to 18, but not on unilateral child conversion, despite still not having the two-third's majority?” he said in a statement on Friday (April 5). 

Lau said Pakatan, especially DAP would only seek to amend the Federal Constitution on issues which served its own purpose, with others deemed negligible.

“What is Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh doing in Cabinet? 

"Previously, she said she would be the voice of children in Parliament, but has she fallen asleep? How would she feel if her own children were subjected to such treatment in the future?” he asked. 

Lau added that all this while, Gerakan had been fighting unilateral child conversion. He said the government's decision was a betrayal of voters. 

"They should be ashamed of themselves and quit their post in government," he said. 

Earlier, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said there were no plans to reintroduce Clause 88A to amend the LRA to deal with the unilateral conversion of minors. 

Muhyiddin had said this was because the Federal Court had decided against several unilateral conversions last year, adding that the court's decision would bind the decision of the lower courts. 

On Nov 21, 2016, Parliament tabled a Bill to amend the LRA with the insertion of Clause 88A, but withdrew it on Aug 7, 2017 after strong objections.

Parliament passed the Bill on Aug 10, 2017 without the clause.

Among the amendments to the LRA was to Section 51, which allows either spouse in cases where one party has converted to Islam to have the marriage dissolved in the civil courts.

The amendments also dealt with the issue of alimony, child custody and property division in the event, where a spouse had converted to Islam.

Clause 88A states that the religion of the child "shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion" and that the child can, after turning 18 and with the consent of both parents, convert to Islam.
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