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Gobind puts foot down, S'gor DAP won't back unilateral conversion bill

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Selangor DAP will not support any bill which proposes to permit the unilateral conversion of minors, said its chairperson Gobind Singh Deo.

He also reiterated Selangor DAP's support for state legislative assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim over the latter's decision to cut short last month's sitting which halted the tabling of the amendment to the state enactment pertaining to converting to Islam.

“Any attempt to introduce laws which permit such unilateral religious conversions in Selangor would be unconstitutional as it would be contrary to the Federal Constitution,” said Gobind.

“The Federal Court has in the case of M. Indira Gandhi clearly held that the word parent applicable in the Federal Constitution means both parents.

“As such, the individual right of both parents to decide on the religion of their children who are minors is now constitutionally guaranteed,” he added in a statement this afternoon.

Gobind, who is also communication and multimedia minister, said the Federal Constitution is supreme and overrides any provision of other laws which are inconsistent with it.

As for the speaker, he said Ng did not contravene any provision under the rules applicable to his conduct of the business of the House.

“He has explained that he adjourned the House in accordance with the Standing Orders and that all agendas had been settled. As such, it was entirely in order for him to adjourn the House, as he did,” he said.

Gobind's remarks come amid speculation of an attempt to remove the speaker over this issue.

Yesterday, Malaysiakini reported that while the amendment has the blessings of the state palace, the majority of Pakatan Harapan assemblypersons are opposed to it.

A PKR assemblyperson revealed how at a pre-council meeting, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said the amendment was necessary to win over Malay votes, but some of those present warned that it would come at the expense of non-Muslim support.

At present, the enactment reads that those below 18 must obtain the consent of his or her "mother and father" before embracing Islam. The amendment seeks to change this to "mother or father."

The Bahasa Malaysia version of the Federal Constitution also refers to "mother or father" with regard to consent for conversion, but the apex court last year made a landmark ruling in the M Indira Gandhi case that the constitution should not be interpreted literally and the consent of both parents are needed for the conversion of minors.

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