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The Cabinet decision putting an end to the conversion of children (April 2009)

Child conversion issue settled

Posted on 24 April 2009 - 03:28am KUALA LUMPUR (April 23, 2009) : The Cabinet has decided that a child's religion must be in accordance with the common religion at the time of marriage between the parents in the event that one of them opts to convert. In announcing the cabinet's decision at a press conference today, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said: "Conversion must not be used as a ground to automatically dissolve a marriage or to get custody of children." He said any individual who wanted to convert to another religion must resolve all problems regarding his responsibilities before converting, to avoid innocent parties, especially the children, becoming victims. He said the cabinet also decided that if a marriage was done under the civil court, it could only be dissolved under the civil law. These were among the long-term solutions discussed by the Cabinet today in the wake of the latest case of Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah and his wife, M. Indira Gandhi, and several other similar cases before them. Mohd Ridzuan, 40, or Patmanathan a/l Krishnan, 40, a Muslim convert who used to be a Hindu, was reported to have converted his children -- Tevi Darsiny, 12, Karan Dinesh, 11, and Prasana Diksa, 1 -- to Islam on April 12 and applied for custody at the Syariah Court although their mother is still a Hindu. The baby is with Mohd Ridzuan, while the two older children are with his estranged wife, a kindergarten teacher. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism is helping Indira Gandhi solve the problem, and theSun had reported today that it would write to the Malay Rulers for "justice and fair play" in this case. The cabinet had tasked five ministers to study the case and brief the cabinet yesterday. "Do not use religion, for instance Islam, as a tool to run away from responsibility or to escape from a marriage, as this will bring a bad name to the religion, "said Nazri:

He said the Cabinet also agreed that the relevant date of application of the Islamic law to any Islam converts was the person's conversion date. To give effect to the decision, the Attorney-General's Chambers will be asked to look into all relevant laws that need to be amended, excluding the syariah law which are under the power of the rulers. In the case of Mohd Ridzuan and Indira Gandhi, Nazri said the minister in charge of religious affairs in the Prime Minister's Department, Senator Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom will meet Mohd Ridzuan to counsel him. -- Bernama

Consultative Council lauds Cabinet decision

Posted on 24 April 2009 - 06:46am The SUN PETALING JAYA (April 23, 2009) : The Cabinet decision putting an end to the conversion of children has been lauded by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism "The cabinet's decision is most welcomed but it is a long way to go." said the body's president Datuk A. Vaithilingam who appealed to Perak Syariah Court and Religious Department to accept the Cabinet decision positively and withdraw its decision and conversion of M Indira Gandhi's three children. "We are still unsure if the decision is for immediate practice and whether it is valid for Indira's children, but we hope the Perak Syariah Court and Religious department will abide by it as it is a more amicable decision. " Vaithilingam told theSun in a telephone interview today. "We are very thankful to PM and DPM who had shown their concern on this matter and responded well," Vaithilingam said., "Special thanks to Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon for his tireless effort in this matter. He contacted me everyday on this matter to update me the progress," he said. "It is a good start for him as the minister in charge for national unity. At least it gives us hope that we are not let down," said Vaithilingam, adding that he and Indira hopes to meet the committee to further discuss and solve the matter. "I am open to discussion with the AG and the Islamic groups so that we can have a dialogue on how better and concrete solutions can be achieved in overcoming such problems." Vaithilingam also said the council's decision to appeal to rulers will be withheld temporarily because the Cabinet has given a positive response,adding that it will approach the rulers if and when it is necessary. 2

Draft law, Bar Council urges A-G

Posted on 27 April 2009 - 08:56pm
PETALING JAYA (April 26, 2009) : The Bar Council has welcomes the decision by the cabinet last week on the conversion of children.

"The Bar Council welcomes the decision, which is consistent with the position we took when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was the prime minister, said its Constitutional Law Committee chairman Edmund Bon. "And when there was a debate on recommendations for the Law Reform Bill, that was our suggestion -- that the child continues in the religion of the marriage." Bon told theSun such conversions should only be made by the children themselves when they were of a sufficient age to do so. "I think that it is right, and that it is consistent with past practices where there should be no compulsion to change the religion of a child because one parent converts to Islam," he said. "Of course, if the child is of a mature age and is not subject to any duress or influence and is of sufficient maturity, international law provides that the child should have a say in the adoption of his or her own religion. "Under the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by Malaysia, the child should have a say in his or her religion of choice." Bon called on the Attorney-Generals Chambers "to work to draft a law putting the cabinet decision into action. "The attorney-general must draft the law to implement this policy, and clarify the constitution. The A-G must clarify and clear any doubts in the constitution as the Malay language version says that as long as one parent converts the child, it is sufficient. However, the English version says that the consent of both parents is needed. There is an ambiguity "Prior to this, the A-G took the view that only one parent was needed. But now, as the Cabinet has come up with this decision, the A-G must be consistent with this decision."

Ikim DG: Non-Muslim children cannot be arbitrarily converted to Islam

Posted on 12 June 2009 - 06:52am IPOH (June 11, 2009) : The call to Islam is a willing and conscious submission, hence it cannot be forced upon anybody, including the conversion of a child or minor to Islam. The director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Datuk Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas said this was because the ability to think and reason was a vital element for a non-Muslim to choose whether to become a Muslim. "A child who has not reached 'umur baligh' (age of maturity) cannot be burdened with the responsibility of accepting something he does not understand as his faculties of reason are still immature. "Therefore, it is unreasonable to say that one can simply convert a child," he said in his keynote address titled "Crisis in Religious Thinking" at a discourse held at the Perak Institute of Islamic Administration, here today. He said a person who converted a child to Islam was actually forcing the child to accept the burden of responsibility when Allah did not command such a burden be placed on the child who had not reached the age of maturity. Syed Ali said conversion of a child to Islam also did not guarantee that he would remain a Muslim as the decision to accept and practise the religion depended on him alone. "The responsibility of a Muslim father is to educate his children on the religion and when they reach the age of maturity, they can make their choice," he said. The Cabinet had in April decided that the children of a couple where one spouse had converted to Islam be raised in the religion the couple professed at the time of their marriage. The decision was made to resolve the religous conversion issue with the latest case involving a man from Ipoh, K. Pathmanaban, a Muslim convert, who converted his three young children to the religion without the consent of his wife who did not convert. BERNAMA

Nazri: Amendments to religious conversion will have to wait

Posted on 1 July 2009 - 03:56am KUALA LUMPUR (June 30, 2009): The amendments for the three religious conversion laws will need to wait indefinitely upon the request of the Conference of Rulers, announced Mininster in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today. Speaking to reporters at the parliament lobby, Nazri said the Conference of Rulers had requested more time to study the cabinets decision before giving the green light to amend the laws. The cabinet had decided on April 22 that children are allowed to maintain their religion from the time their parents were married even one of them converted into other religion later so that it will not be used as an excuse to get custody of the children. The cabinet had also decided that any adult who wishes to convert religion must ensure that issues remaining are solved between the spouses. Nazri, who tabled the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Islamic Family (Federal Territories) Law 1984 and Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Islamic Law 1993 for amendments, said the Rulers had far-reaching implications over the amendments of the laws and since the laws are related to Islam, the consent of the Rulers must first be obtained and that he has no idea as to when a decision will be made by the Rulers. I am unable to hand out the bills to the MPs out of respect for the Rulers have yet to agree on the amendments. We have started preparing for the amendments since 2006 and the Attorney-General has worked very hard for it. The government is prepared (for the amendments) and I am quite disappointed with the outcome as we still could not do it now, he said.

Teacher gets leave to quash conversion of her children

Posted on 28 July 2010 - 11:32pm IPOH (July 28, 2010): The High Court has granted a kindergarten teachers application for a judicial review to quash her three childrens conversion to Islam. M. Indira Gandhi, who has been granted custody of the children -- Tevi Darsiny (Ummu Salamah), 13, Karan Dinish (Abu Bakar), 12, and Prasana Diksa, 2, last March, is seeking to quash her children's conversion to Islam by her former husband, Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, without her consent.

Justice Zainal Adzam Abdul Ghani handed down the decision in chambers today in the presence of Indira Gandhi's lawyers, M.Kulasegaran, N. Selvam and Chong Xian Ci. Kulasegaran, when met by reporters later, said they would submit the judicial review in 14 days. In her application for leave to file the judicial review, Indira Gandhi had named six respondents. They are the Perak registrar of converts, the Perak Islamic Religious Department (JAIP), the Perak state government, the Education Ministry, the Malaysian government, and her estranged husband, K. Pathmanathan (now known as Mohd Ridzuan). On April 24 2009, the High court had allowed an ex-parte application by Indira Gandhi to get temporary custody of her three children and also an injunction to prevent her exhusband from entering their home. However, on May 5 2009, the court granted Mohd Ridzuan a stay of its earlier order, leaving the situation to return to status quo with the father having custody of the youngest child and Indira Gandhi of the elder two children. On Oct 29 2009, the Syariah court granted Mohd Ridzuan custody of all three children. However, on March 11 this year, Indira Gandhi was granted custody of their youngest child, which led to Mohd Ridzuan to file an application for a stay of the order, but his bid failed when the High Court set aside the application last April 1. This case drew wide attention because of the conflicting powers of the Syariah and Civil courts where it came to custody of children when one of the spouses converted to Islam. Bernama ===============================================================

Betrayal of non-Muslim Cabinet members

July 1, 2013 FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail In April 2009 the Cabinet had decided that the children of an estranged couple should remain in the common religion of the parents at the time of their marriage. This was after the public outcry about the conversion of three children of an Indian couple by the father who had converted to Islam. The children were aged one, 11 and 12. The recent and out of the blues tabling in Parliament of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 with the provision on the conversion of

non-Muslim children with the consent of either mother or father proves that the Cabinet decision of April 2009 is not worth the paper it is written on. A Cabinet decision is an unwritten law, or common law. It can only be revised by the Cabinet. Civil servants have to give due respect to Cabinet decisions and implement them. In Malaysia, it is the convention that proposed legislation must first get Cabinet approval before it goes to Parliament for the formalities of a debate and vote on it. Rarely has any legislation tabled in Parliament not been passed lock, stock and barrel by the august house. Objections or no objections, practically all legislation or amendments are given the rubber stamp by Parliament as the majority-side Parliamentarians have no choice but to support the Prime Minister. The ruling partys whip will ensure this. Therefore, tabling this Bill without the knowledge of the non-Muslim members of the Cabinet is an act of betrayal. They were a party to the decision of April 2009. It is akin to back-stabbing them. This is a very serious matter as its implications run deep. On the one hand the government talks of fostering closer inter-racial ties, on the other it shows scant respect for their rights. Even the rights of the non-Muslim Cabinet members who were a party to the decision of April 2009 have been trampled on as they were left in the dark over the proposed amendment. Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution says the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. The words parent or guardian in this context cannot mean either mother or father for the simple reason that it takes a man and a woman, a mother and a father, to produce a child. The child is therefore the common property of both the mother and the father until the age of maturity from whence the child is on its own. So how can the law allow one of them to grab the child from the other by abusing religion? Im sure there are some Muslims out there who do not support the forced conversion of minors who are born non-Muslims. If God wanted everyone to be a Muslim, he would simply not have created people of different creeds, cultures, religions. When a nonMuslim converts to Islam and then converts his under-aged children, he or she is doing it out of vengeance on the other partner. For whatever reasons, he is taking revenge on the other partner. Not only Islam, but no other religion should abet this vengeful action of the one parent on the other. No religion should tolerate this, let alone welcome it. Religions are for preaching peace and not for provoking enmity between peoples all of whom are children of the one and only God although He is called by different names in different languages.

The surreptitious tabling of the Bill has become a test for all the non-Muslim members of Parliament. Will those who are in arms with Umno support it as required by the Parliamentary whip, or are they ready to stand up and put their foot down and not allow the religious rights of the non-Muslims to be steam-rolled over by parties with a holierthan-thou attitude? In a worst case scenario are they prepared to break ranks and oppose it (not abstain from voting by not attending the session), but by actually being present when a vote is taken and opposing it? This Bill drives wedges between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. Is this what 1Malaysia is all about? Is this creation of animosity between the Muslims and the nonMuslims in full accord with the teachings of Islam? So the Cabinet decision in April 2009 was just to fool the people for a while? Where is the honour of the Cabinet? The proposed law should have codified that decision of the Cabinet instead of throwing it into the drain and coming up with something that is a full about turn. Was Najib pushed by some more powerful hand than his own to table this Bill with the controversial provision that goes against the letter and spirit of the Cabinets decision of April 2009? Please stop driving wedges between the people who have lived as brothers and sisters for so long. - See more at:

'Conversion case shows cabinet decisions toothless'

Malaysiakini Thu, Jun 13, 2013 An inter-faith council has criticised the cabinet as being toothless, as civil servants appear to be defying its decision to ban parents from secretly converting children. "Was the cabinet's decision in April 2009 a flash in the pan to pacify non-Muslim Malaysians because of the numerous cases of such gross injustice? "Does this cabinet decision bear any weight at all, or do civil servants do as they wish? "Would other civil servants be enabled to do likewise with directives from the prime minister and his cabinet?" said Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism (MCCBCHST) in a statement today.

They were responding to the most recent case where a woman in Negri Sembilan has discovered that her two children, minors, have been converted to Islam by her estranged husband without her consent. In April 2009, the government barred such secret conversion of children after the flare-up over the case of an ethnic Indian woman, who faced losing custody of her three children when her estranged husband converted them to Islam without her consent. 'Will the non-Muslim parent get justice?' The council also questioned why matters such as the issue of custody was never discussed with the newly-converted parent by the officer conducting the conversion of the two children? "Is it not mandatory or at least pragmatic and fair for the officer converting underage children to verify custody and other issues from their newly- converted parent? "Can and will the conversion of the children be reversed as it was premised on untruths?" The MCCBCHST also wants the authorities to answer the following: ln making this decision, was the government thinking of the best interests of the children? Will the non-Muslim parent get justice? Will the civil courts abdicate their responsibility on a "misinterpretation" of Article l21(1A) of the federal constitution? Article 121(1A) prevents the civil courts from interfering with the decisions of the syariah courts. Will police ensure the enforcement of the decision of the civil court, should it "have the courage to maintain the rights of a non-Muslim spouse and the children in her custody in a civil marriage"? Will the lslamic authorities then, too, abide by the law? In the Negri Sembilan case, the 29-year-old mother from Jelebu lodged a police report after the Islamic Affairs Department had refused to entertain her appeal for a reversal of the conversion the children, aged five and eight. Although estranged, the couple remain legally married under civil law. However, state Islamic Affairs Department director Johani Hassan had on Sunday said that, under the laws of the state, only the consent of one parent who has embraced Islam is needed to convert their children to Islam.