We want to see draft of amendments: Council
amendments to the law should include provisions that would make it compulsory for a converting spouse to inform the other spouse within seven days of such conversions.
“This will prohibit secret conversions. There must be an obligation placed on the converting spouse,” its vicepresident Jagir Singh said.
The council said when one party in a civil marriage converts to Islam, amendments should give the civil courts “exclusive jurisdiction” on the marriage notwithstanding the conversion.
It also called for the amendment to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution where the word “parent” be amended to “parents” and that both parties be allowed to file a divorce petition when either one converts to Islam.
The council’s secretarygeneral Prematilaka Serisena said the government should engage stakeholders and take into consideration their input on the amendments.
“When you are going to amend the Law Reform Act, which involves the whole fabric of the nation, you need to present the proposed law and discuss it with stakeholders.”
Prematilaka said the government cannot say that MCCBHCST has agreed to the amendments when it has never seen the substantive content of the proposed bill.
“We need to see what are the effects and impacts.
“Let our legal team and the leaders of various faiths scrutinise the bill. It has to be an equitable situation, you cannot hide it and say we have agreed.”
Prematilaka also said the government should correct the “administrative error” in the publication of the Federal Constitution and restore the original interpretation of “parent” to “ibubapa” and not “ibu atau bapa”, which has indicated that either a mother or a father could decide on their children’s faith leading to unilateral conversions.
The council was responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s announcement on Aug 25 that the government planned to amend the Act.