Saturday, June 21, 2014

Call on the Prime Minister to set up all party Committee to address the thorny inter faith issue.



Press Statement by M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on Saturday, June 21, 2014
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Call on the Prime Minister to set up all party Committee to address the thorny inter faith issue.

I welcome the statement by Health Datuk Minister Subramaniam that the Cabinet Committee formed in 2009 to look into the thorny issue of minors’ conversion to Islam is still intact and functioning.

He has said that the three-member committee was led by then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for National Unity and Key Performance Index Koh Tsu Koon, with the other member being Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs Jamil Khir Baharom.
But the question is Koh Tsu Koon has retired from politics, so who is his replacement?

Minister Jamil has misled Malaysians

Last week, in a reply to my parliamentary question on the government’s failure of to find a middle path on the conversion issue, the Minister Datuk Jamil Khir said that all parties are bound by Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution which he says allows children to be converted by consent by either one of the parent.
The Minister has come under severe criticisms for quoting a wrong court case to justify his views. Bar Council Chairman Christopher Leong has in a statement explained the true facts of the S Shamala court case.  
But more important is that Datuk Subramaniam has now revealed that the committee is alive and kicking.
From the reply given to me, it looks like the views exposed by Jamil was without the knowledge and consent of the Committee. I ask the Cabinet to order the reconvening of the Committee to reply issues of public interest relating to inter faith matters.

Before 1970, the word “parent “as mentioned in article 12(4) was translated into Bahasa Malaysia as Ibu dan  bapa. But after 1970, it was translated as Ibu atau bapa. How has this change come about and who was responsible for it?
In short, Jamil has misled the House by his reply and I intend to take this issue up in the soonest possible in the next sitting of Parliament.

High level committee a toothless organ

The high level Committee should have been working day and night to find a “win win” solution to this complicated and emotional religious issue. For sure a permanent, detailed and long range policy on this inter faith matter should have been addressed at the earliest possible moment.
To drag on endlessly shows the ineptness of the Committee and its members. Leadership and strong willed decisions are sometimes painful but definitely required for a plural society like Malaysia.
I am reluctant but need to state the obvious that the committee is lame duck and spineless. If otherwise, the whole interfaith matter should have been addressed some 5 over years ago after the Cabinet has made the decision banning unilateral conversion of minors.
Would I be wrong to say the Committee has not been effective as it was set up to give the impression to all fellow Malaysians that thorny inter faith matters are being tackled?

Suggest a all party Committee to address this issue

As the Committee set up to address inter faith matter is more dead than alive and its continuous paralysis will hurt inter faith relations in our country,  I call on the Prime Minister to set up an all party Committee to overcome this serious issue.
All political parties in the country should be represented in the Committee and a time frame should be set for the Committee to resolve the thorny issue.

Inter faith is only one of the many issues in which the Government of the day is dragging its feet and hopping it will wither away over time. Any delay is finding a permanent solution will only cause more misunderstanding and ill feelings among the different religious faiths.
This situation must not go on and the Prime Minister must prove his seriousness and preparedness to resolve the issue by forming an all party Committee.

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