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PM asked to clear the air on unilateral conversion of minors

 | May 24, 2016

Minister Jamil Khir's reply that one parent can decide on conversions of minors is a setback, says MP and lawyer M Kulasegaran.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak has been asked to clear the air on unilateral conversions after BN Minister Jamil Khir Baharom said one parent can decide on conversions of minors.

M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) said it was shocking to hear the answer by the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in Parliament.

“Is the parliamentary answer provided by Jamil Khir the latest policy taken by the Cabinet committee?

“I suspect the committee would not have agreed to this disturbing and unreasonable interpretation taken by Jamil Khir,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby.

Jamil Khir told Parliament yesterday that unilateral conversions were lawful and guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

Kulasegaran said the present narrow and restricted reading of “parent” ought to be done away with.

Kulasegaran, who acted as the counsel for Indira Gandhi’s children’s unilateral conversion case, said that the word “parent” under Article 160 (1) of the Constitution should mean consent of both parents instead of one.

“This means the word ‘parent’ should be read as parents.”

He said it was obvious that the 2009 Cabinet ruling on this issue was correctly decided and in line with the article.

In 2009, the Cabinet had decided that a child must follow the religion practised by the parents at the time of marriage in the event one of them opted to convert.

Last year, the Cabinet had set up a five-man Cabinet committee, comprising MIC President Dr S Subramaniam, MCA President Liow Tiong Lai, as well as BN ministers Joseph Kurup and Nazri Aziz, to deal with interfaith conversions and custody matters.


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