KOTA KINABALU: A PAS lawyer running for a state seat in Sabah wants state Islamic family laws to be amended, to avoid controversies such as the M Indira Gandhi case involving unilateral conversion of children.
Hamid Ismail, who is contesting the Tanjung Aru seat, said Indira’s case could have been settled amicably if the shariah court in Perak had not made any orders relating to the children from the civil marriage.
In January, the Federal Court set aside the unilateral conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam after ruling that the consent of both parents was required for any conversion of non-Muslim children.
The court also decreed that only the civil court would decide on such matters.
Hamid said the Sabah Islamic Family Law Enactment should be reviewed in view of amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act last year, to avoid clashes of jurisdiction between the civil court and syariah court in Sabah.
“Why am I bringing this issue? I want the cases like Indira Gandhi and other appeals to never occur in Sabah,” he said.
Hamid said religious tension had been raised after the Federal Court, in a landmark ruling, decided in Indira’s favour.
He said the clash between state and federal laws occurred in Section 46(2) of the Sabah enactment by which a converted spouse could apply to the shariah court for dissolution of his civil marriage and related orders.
However the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act already provided that a non-Muslim couple, where one spouse had converted to Islam, could petition the civil court for the dissolution of the marriage, either separately or together.
Hamid pointed out that state law would be null and void under the Federal Constitution if it was inconsistent with federal law.
”I want to protect Islam and improve the shariah court in Sabah. This is part of my efforts to do so. I am sure all parties desire a harmonious inter-relation between shariah and civil laws.”
Edward Yong Oi Fah (BN) seeks re-election to Tanjung Aru. Besides Hamid, the other challengers are Noraiza Mohamed Noor of Parti Harapan Rakyat; Chong Wei Leung (Anak Negeri);and Wong Hong Jun (Parti Warisan
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