GEORGE TOWN: Urgent reforms to family law must be pushed forward by the government, given the case of Loh Siew Hong’s three children who were converted to Islam by their Muslim-convert father without her consent.
Former religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa said unilateral conversions would continue unabated if the laws were not harmonised and fixed.
“But, ultimately, these laws must be compassionate, especially in the case of child custody when a parent converts. That is in the spirit of Islam,” he told FMT.
“Or else, we will always hear of children being converted by their convert father without the mother’s consent. This paints a negative image of Islam, which prides on compassion and the love of the mother,” he said.
His remarks come days after the Perlis mufti said the conversion of Loh’s children was in line with Perlis state law. His contention has been disputed by others who say a Federal Court decision and the Federal Constitution override state law.
Mujahid, who is Parit Buntar MP, said: “The other thing that needs changing is the attitude of those in authority, too. If we cannot tackle this issue through the law, we should tackle it through our attitudes.
“Have we not learnt any lessons from the Indira Gandhi case? If we don’t (learn from it), this issue will never end.”
In Loh’s case, Mujahid said her rights over her children could not be deprived as doing so goes against the compassionate spirit advocated in Islam.
“Sadly, we are stuck with people riding on racial and religious bigotry. Solving this issue should not be along such lines. If we don’t get out of the racial and religious tangle, this issue will never be solved. We will be stuck there and it will perpetuate more problems,” he said.
Mujahid also lamented the lack of will by politicians in addressing the issue.
“One camp is riding along with popular opinion, the other is resorting to racial slurs and religious bigotry.”
He said it is important to uphold the morally correct position. “Islam is fair to all. It is how we preserve justice that counts.”