Thursday, August 10, 2017

Watered-down LRA passed, 'unilateral conversion can't be solved yet'

Zikri Kamarulzaman     Published     Updated

PARLIAMENT | A watered-down version of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (amendment) Bill (LRA) has passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Bill was passed by a voice vote at 12.45am. The House had stopped the clock as proceedings dragged past midnight.

Notably missing from the passed Bill is a provision which would have barred unilateral conversion of children by a parent.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said said Section 88A, which was removed on Tuesday, would not have solved the problem of unilateral conversion.

"I don't believe Section 88A would use solved the conversion issue.

"This needs further and deeper discussions.

"But this does not mean it is the end of the story (of solving unilateral conversion)," Azalina told the Dewan Rakyat tonight.

The scrapped Section 88A is as follows:

"Section 88A. (1) Where a 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 eighteen years."

"(2) Where the parties to the marriage professed different religions prior to the conversion of one spouse to Islam, a child of the marriage shall be at liberty to remain in the religion of either one of the prior religions of the parties before the conversion to Islam."

DAP lawmakers had argued for the section to be reinserted in the LRA.

PAS lawmakers, meanwhile, wanted the bill to be pulled in its entirety to be tabled at a later date, to resolve issues such as unilateral conversion.
Among the sections PAS was unhappy with was the amended Section 51 of the LRA which states: Where one party to a marriage has converted to Islam— (a) either party may petition for a divorce under this section or section 53;"
PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan had explained at a press conference earlier that this conflicted with state syariah laws, which Muslim converts would be subject to, upon embracing the religion.

The Islamist party has proposed that civil marriages ended through the conversion of one partner, be dissolved at syariah court first.

PAS had attempted to force a bloc vote to stop the LRA amendments from passing, but this failed as they did not have the 15 people necessary to support such a move.

~ Malaysiakini

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