Sunday, May 3, 2009


Indira Gandhi, with the help from friends and relatives, has been putting up posters looking for her estranged husband and their child. (Photo)

CONVERSION: The children need their mother, too

By : FATIMAH Z.A., Kuala Lumpur

EVERY mother loves her child. All the moments they've shared together, even when the baby was yet to be born, are very meaningful to her. Perhaps K. Patmanathan a.k.a. Muhamad Ridzuan Abdullah never really understood this bond. Yes, children love both parents who take care of them, but the kind of love is different.

The father works hard to ensure that his children get the best this world has to offer. But a mother contributes as well. She takes care of household chores and kids at home.

It is really sad and painful to see in the news that Indira Gandhi is still searching for her youngest child, Prasana Diksa, apparently only with the aid of close family members and friends.

I visited NST online and saw her picture, posting the poster of her husband and her year-old baby on a tree. With that tired look on her face, I thought Indira was still having sleepless nights and surely hasn't been eating well.

To Muhamad Ridzuan Abdullah, please come back. Please come back and do the right thing. I know that deep in your heart, you know that this is wrong. Please come home and give the children their mother back, and the mother her children back.

Think about your children as well. Have you ever thought how they feel about all this? Have you ever asked them? Islam is not a forcible religion.

In fact, it encourages its followers to foster bonds between parents, even if they are of different religions. Let your children decide. Let time decide. Please, don't let this issue become more complicated than it already is. It's a simple matter, really.

You can solve all this. Only you can. I trust you will do the right thing, Malaysia trusts you will do the right thing, Muhamad Ridzuan Abdullah. (NST - Used With Permission).

Conversion laws face major test

KUALA LUMPUR: The Court of Appeal's decision to refer the case involving the custody and conversion of the sons of S. Shamala and Muhamad Ridzwan (Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah) to the Federal Court last Tuesday has given rise to some interesting issues.

Chiefly, it is set to be one of the biggest tests for the government and judiciary following the cabinet's decision that children of divorced parents should be raised in the religion at the time of their marriage should one of them later convert to another religion.

The landmark decision two weeks ago, thus, will be tested by the highest court of the land if the current laws and enactments are not amended to provide clear interpretation on matters related to such conversion cases, according to those in the legal circles.

The cabinet's decision is seen by many as a move to alleviate the frustration of certain parents whose children had been converted to another religion without their knowledge, consent or against their will.

It is in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia, a concept espoused by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has called on Malaysians to refrain from viewing matters from narrow ethnic perspectives.

Malaysia has a dual legal system, with civil and syariah courts operating side by side.

The Court of Appeal has decided to refer five constitutional questions to the apex court before hearing the appeals as it wants the Federal Court to adjudicate on conflicting Islamic and civil laws governing conversion and the freedom of the practice of religion.

For example, there will be the question of whether the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993, which gives the right to a converted parent to convert his or her children from a civil marriage without the knowledge and consent of the other parent, is inconsistent with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. This is because the amended Guardianship of Infants Act gives equal rights to a mother and father on the upbringing and custody of their children.

Then there will also be the issue of whether the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (Act 505) is in conflict with the Federal Constitution and a federal law relating to the issue of converting a minor by a parent.

The Federal Court also has to decide whether there is jurisdiction for the civil High Court or syariah court to make conflicting orders, and if there has been conversion of children from a civil marriage into Islam by one parent without the consent of the other parent, where then would the non-Muslim parent seek remedy.

In the Shamala-Ridzwan case, both relied on both sets of laws -- Ridzwan on syariah and Shamala on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

Under the two law systems, both were granted custody of the two sons from their 11- year marriage. Seven years later, they still do not have closure on the case.

The same also happened in the case of Indira Gandhi and K. Patmanathan (Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah), where the syariah court had earlier granted interim custody of their three children to Ridzuan and two weeks later, the Ipoh High Court granted interim custody to Indira.

In layman's terms, it is a matter of concern if the Federal Court has to make an interpretation of whether the civil court has jurisdiction over the syariah court if the marriage was first registered under civil law.

But some quarters are concerned that without any amendments to the existing and related laws, the cabinet's decision may not be helpful.

As pointed out by Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan, the cabinet directive is a policy statement that requires amendments to existing laws for its full realisation.

"The relevant legislation must be immediately amended in order to fully implement this directive without further delay," he said.

Senator Datuk Gooi Hoe Hin said, in the spirit of 1Malaysia, the government of the day should fast track amendments to various laws to avoid further apprehension that the fundamental rights of non-Muslims enshrined in the Federal Constitution are not violated.

Such amendments will ensure that the basic principles of a socially-just system are further enhanced, thereby enabling the people to have greater confidence in the government, he added.

Some, however, argue that asking for the related changes as soon as possible is easy but the reality is that it will take time to put them into effect.

This is especially so in matters related to amendments in syariah which need the consent of the Malay rulers and Islamic bodies.

Several Muslim organisations have been reported to be against the cabinet directive, posing the question whether such amendments could be carried out.

Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said the government needs to get the views of the Malaysian Mufti Council, stressing that "in Islam, when the father or mother is a Muslim, the child automatically becomes a Muslim unless the child is above the age of 15 and can choose his or her own religion".

Many syariah lawyers feel that the cabinet decision denies the rights of people who convert to Islam.

Senior lawyer Roger Tan said: "The Federal Court can decide and work both ways. It can depart from normal decisions. Nobody knows for sure."

Whatever the outcome, the government will need the support of the majority in Parliament to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all. – Bernama (Used with permission)

Conversion row: MCA ticks off the Lims

Athi Veeranggan May 2, 09 7:29pm

A MCA leader fired a salvo at DAP’s father-and-son team for failing to criticise Islamic ally PAS over the cabinet policy to ban parents from secretly converting children in a case that has strained race relations. (Malaysiakini - Used with permission).

Demo bantah kabinet isu agama anak

May 1, 09 12:18pm

Pemuda PAS hari ini menganjurkan perhimpunan ringkas membantah keputusan kabinet berhubung pengekalan agama asal anak walaupun ibu atau bapanya telah memeluk Islam.

Dengan plakad putih bertulisan "tarik balik", lebih kurang 100 penyokong parti itu berkumpul kira-kira 15 minit selepas solat Jumaat di perkarangan masjid Kampung Baru.

Dalam ucapan ringkasnya, ketua Pemuda PAS Wilayah Persekutuan, Kamaruzaman Mohamad menyifatkan keputusan kabinet itu tidak dibuat mengikut saluran yang betul.

"(Oleh itu) kita berikan tekanan kepada kabinet supaya tarik balik keputusan ini," katanya.

Selain dihalang polis, mereka juga memberhentikan dengan segera demonstrasi kecil itu selepas pentadbiran masjid menegur penganjur yang dianggap "tidak menghormati" satu majlis di pusat ibadat itu.

Selain Pemuda PAS Wilayah Persekutuan, perhimpunan itu turut dianjurkan oleh Lajnah Dakwah dan Pembelaan Islam Dewan Pemuda PAS pusat. Klik video di sini.

Dalam satu kenyataan awalnya, Kamaruzaman menganggap keputusan kabinet pada 23 April sebagai "paling biadap terhadap Yang di-Pertuan Agong, mufti, Parlimen dan juga sistem kehakiman negara."

"Sesungguhnya kabinet sedar bahawa mereka hanyalah berkuasa dalam sudut eksekutif bukannya legistatif dan kehakiman.

"Maka tidak selayaknya mereka mengeluarkan keputusan dan arahan melangkaui bidang kuasa mereka terutamanya dalam isu yang membabitkan soal agama," katanya.

Keputusan jemaah menteri itu pernah dibantah oleh beberapa NGO Islam, termasuk Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia dan Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim).

Selain keputusan membesarkan anak di bawah umur mengikut agama asal ibu bapanya, kabinet juga memutuskan pasangan yang memeluk Islam harus menyelesaikan segala isu berkaitan perceraian dan penjagaan anak-anak di mahkamah sivil.

Langkah itu selaras dengan pendirian jemaah menteri bahawa enakmen syariah hanya boleh digunakan terhadap perjanjian berkaitan perkahwinan yang dibuat bermula dari tarikh individu itu memeluk Islam dan bukannya sebelum itu.

Keputusan terbaru kabinet itu berdasarkan pandangan jawatankuasa khas yang ditubuhkan bagi menyelesaikan kes K Pathmanaban, atau nama Islamnya Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, dengan bekas isterinya M Indira Ghandi.

Lelaki itu menukar agama tiga anak mereka sejak penghujung tahun lepas. (Malaysiakini - Used with permission).

Agama anak: Kabinet mesti rujuk mufti

Apr 24, 09 4:35pm

Keputusan kabinet - anak kekal agama asal ibu bapanya walaupun salah seorang menganut Islam - sewajarnya dirujuk kepada mufti, kata Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria.

Mufti Perak menyarankan kerajaan mendapatkan pandangan Majlis Mufti-mufti Malaysia sebelum membuat sebarang keputusan berhubung Islam bagi mengelak timbulnya kekeliruan, lapor Bernama.

"Dalam agama Islam, mana-mana bapa atau ibu yang menganuti Islam, anak mereka dengan sendirinya menganut Islam kecuali jika anak tersebut sudah berumur lebih 15 tahun dan boleh memilih agamanya sendiri," Harussani dipetik berkata hari ini.

Ketika mengumumkan keputusan kabinet, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri (JPM) Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz berkata keputusan itu sebagai langkah penyelesaian berhubung pertikaian status agama kanak-kanak apabila ibu atau bapa menukar agama.

Menurut agensi berita itu lagi, beberapa NGO Islam turut menggesa kerajaan mengkaji semula keputusan itu kerana mendakwa ia dibuat tanpa mengambil kira undang-undang sedia ada dan pandangan pihak-pihak yang berkenaan.

Keputusan itu menafikan hak pihak yang memeluk Islam, kata Presiden Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia, Mohamad Isa Abdul Latif pada sidang akhbar yang turut dihadiri wakil-wakil badan lain termasuk Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) dan Persatuan Dakwah dan Kebajikan Saudara Baru Islam SeMalaysia.

Selain keputusan membesarkan anak di bawah umur mengikut agama asal ibu bapanya, kabinet juga memutuskan pasangan yang memeluk Islam harus menyelesaikan segala isu berkaitan perceraian dan penjagaan anak-anak di mahkamah sivil.

Nazri dilaporkan berkata, langkah itu selaras dengan pendirian jemaah menteri bahawa enakmen syariah hanya boleh digunakan terhadap perjanjian berkaitan perkahwinan yang dibuat bermula dari tarikh individu itu memeluk Islam dan bukannya sebelum itu.

Tambahnya, keputusan itu berdasarkan pandangan jawatankuasa khas yang ditubuhkan bagi menyelesaikan kes K Pathmanaban atau nama Islamnya Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah.

Jawatankuasa yang dipengerusikan oleh Menteri di JPM Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon turut disertai Menteri Sumber Manusia, Datuk Dr S Subramaniam; Menteri di JPM Mejar Jeneral (B) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, dan Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. (Malaysiakini - Used with permission).

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