Saturday, April 12, 2014

Parliament must clarify and bring a finality and certainty on issues of conversions and custody of children


Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh Barat on Saturday, April 12, 2014

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Parliament must clarify and bring a finality and certainty on issues of conversions and custody of children

It is not a surprise that Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has been widely criticized for saying that the Police will not act on the report lodged by S Deepa, whose son was snatched by her estranged Muslim convert husband.

Khalid gave the reason that there are two court orders awarding the respective parents custody.

"In this case, there are two court orders, one civil and syariah court. So I feel it is better for both sides (the parents) to solve the matter first,” he said.

The IGP’s remarks are most shocking, unprofessional and irresponsible as it is his duty to act immediately on Deepa’s report.

Khalid must not try to give any excuse.

As correctly pointed by former Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri, the issue was a clear cut kidnapping and that the couple had a civil law marriage.


Therefore the IGP is duty bound to act. If he is still unclear about the issue, he should seek advice from Nazri.

If he is not prepared to carry his duty, then he will fail his responsibilities and role as a law enforcer and the option left will be for him to tender his resignation as the nation’s top cop.

In 2009 I raised this issue of conversion into Islam in Parliament as invariably the non converting party suffers withouth much remedy. Immediately a high level Cabinet committee was formed.

Later in Parliament then defacto Law Minister DS Nari stated that the children of conversion would be raised up in the religion prior to conversion. Further laws would be brought to address this probamlitic issue. It's over 5 years since the announcement but nothing much has taken place. The Government is dragging its feet on this issue.

Any finally the Government lacks political will to bring a permanent solution to this matter. Thus parties as a result suffer in conversion of religion case due to inaction by our Government.As a lawyer who has been fighting for M Indira Gandhi whose husband converted to Islam and subsequently converted their three children before claiming custody over them at the Syariah Court, I had in March 2010 called on the nation’s legislators in Parliament to address the issue of problems resulting from conversions to Islam.

While Indira won custody of the children at the Ipoh High Court, the Syariah court granted her husband, K Pathmanathan @ Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, custody over the their two daughters and son.

But the BN government has been dragging its feet on the matter.

I had then added, “The parallel system of laws in the country has resulted in a legal limbo of sorts between the Syariah courts and the civil courts, too many children have been and will continue to be victimised by tussles between the two sets of laws”.

I wish to repeat my stand that “It is the duty of Parliament to clarify and bring a finality and certainty on issues of conversions and custody of children.

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