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Unilateral conversion amendment violates Federal Court decision, says MCA

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MCA has questioned the Selangor state government over its controversial proposed amendment on unilateral conversion, saying that it would be a violation of the Federal Constitution and the Federal Court's decision.

"We urge Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari and the Selangor state government to uphold the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land.

"The state government should respect and abide by the Federal Court ruling on Jan 29, 2018, which nullified the unilateral conversion of the children of Indira Gandhi and her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah (formerly known as K Patmanathan)," said MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er in a statement today.

"The Selangor state government must drop all plans and withdraw the proposed state bill to allow unilateral conversions of minors by either mother or father as opposed to the existing state enactment which mandates the rights of both father and mother (ibubapa) to determine the religion of their child," she said.

"The landmark ruling by the Federal Court last year has clarified and confirmed that the constitution should not be interpreted literally and that the consent of both parents is needed before changing the faiths of minors," she added.

She said that the Federal Constitution also addresses the issue of conflict arising over state versus federal powers whereby Article 75 reads that, “If any state law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail.”

"It is baffling and alarming that the Selangor Harapan government not only desires to amend a state enactment to contravene the Federal Constitution but snubs the constitutional rights of the non-converting parent besides ignoring the wider polarising effects on the immediate family and society at large as a consequence of a sole parent who embraces another faith.

"For more than a decade, controversies have raged over unilateral conversions of minor children involving not only Indira Gandhi but other cases (S Shyamala and Subashini Rajasingham v Saravanan Thangathoray) and judgements by courts lower than the apex courts have divided Malaysia.

"If the Harapan state and federal governments purport to herald in a "New Malaysia", whereby as Malaysian citizens, we extol the values and goodwill of multiculturalism, then enacting laws to legally permit unilateral conversion of a minor is mala fide and breaches such values," she said.

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