Malaysiakini Letter

PM must start walking the talk on empowering women

Kasthuri Patto  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Tomorrow Indira Gandhi will blow her birthday candles without her youngest child, who was cruelly snatched when she was 11 months old by her renegade husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, nine years ago.

Tomorrow will be a bitter painful reminder to Indira that the administration of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had failed her and her family countless times.

This was particularly so when she came so close to having her child back in her arms, when the amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act had been tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, only for the most crucial part of the legislation to be revoked at the eleventh hour when Najib and his administration shamelessly buckled under pressure from rightwing groups, snubbing the rule of law and upholding justice for the marginalised.

Let Najib be reminded of his pledge in celebrating 2018 as the year for Women Empowerment.

What sort of women empowerment is the prime minister talking about when he did not assist in ensuring that the needed amendments in Section 88A of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) bill that was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last August when he had the power to do so.

Mr prime minister, by failing one mother the just right to custody of her child, you have failed to uphold the rule of law, failed all women in Malaysia to ensure that our rights, access to justice and equal respect be protected – not by you, not by Umno, not by BN and certainly not by the government.

Is the prime minister afraid that he will lose support from rightwing groups if he steps up to do the right thing to ensure that with the right amendments to the law, both parents need to provide consent, neither father nor mother can pursue converting their children to Islam?

Enough of political rhetoric, BN has been in power for 60 years and yet is unable to heal the wound of a mother who is one of the many casualties to have been separated from her baby, not just by her rogue husband, but by the BN government as well, a pawn in the unilateral conversion debacle.

If the prime minister spends even half the time spent on launching direct attacks on Pakatan Harapan and its leadership on seriously looking into making genuine reforms to existing laws, then the only tears you would see in the eyes of Indira would be tears of joy when justice is served, and she is reunited with her child after nine years of a painful separation.

This would be priceless birthday present indeed.

I call upon the prime minister to make amending Section 88A of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act a “better late than never” New Year resolution so as to uphold the rule of law, the supremacy of the constitution and to rise above himself as the nation's premier, in the case of Indira Gandhi and her nine-year custody battle to be reconciled with her daughter.

Shelve your personal vendetta against Pakatan Harapan and walk the talk, Mr prime minister.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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