DAP calls for Cabinet committee to deal with conversion issues
V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
The Malaysian Insider
Published: 5 June 2014 | Updated: 5 June 2014 4:34 PM
A Cabinet committee must be set up and laws changed to help those mistakenly registered as Muslims or unilaterally converted to the religion, the DAP said today.
Its parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang (pic) said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should set up the committee, comprising the Home Ministry and state Islamic authorities.
"This is to provide a speedy resolution and rescue from limbo the few hundred cases of mistaken registration of persons as Muslims in birth certificates or identity cards," he said in a statement.
Lim said it did not speak well for Najib’s Government Transformation Programme when such erroneous entries seemed impossible to be rectified and caused untold hardship to the victims.
"Islam is not under attack even with the rectification as they are not Muslims," he said.
Lim said this in response to a case highlighted by Astro Awani where an error 19 years ago on the identity card of Johann Lim Nordin had caused him a lot of inconvenience.
On his identity card, his full name is stated as Johann Lim Noordin bin Billy Noordin while his birth certificate states his name as Johann Lim Noordin .
Lim said Johann (pronounced as Yo-han) is a Buddhist and has never been a Muslim.
The 32-year-old Chinese-Indian from Penang has been unable to get this error resolved with the National Registration Department (NRD) since he was 13 years old.
Lim said the NRD last month suggested that Johann obtain an official letter from the Shariah Court stating that he is not a Muslim.
DAP national vice-chairman M. Kula Segaran weighed in on the issue when he touched on the case of a Muslim bride who was taken away from her wedding ceremony at a temple in Petaling Jaya last Sunday.
He was commenting on the case of Zarinah Abdul Majid who tied the knot with her boyfriend of 7 years at a Hindu temple in Petaling Jaya but the ceremony was disrupted when several officials from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) took her away to probe into her religious status.
Kula Segaran said the incident highlighted the urgent need for Putrajaya to resolve unilateral conversion issues, adding that the Cabinet must expedite the necessary changes in law to bring the matter to a rest.
"The Cabinet must walk the talk on its April 2009 decision banning unilateral conversions of minors," he said in a separate statement today.
The then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the Cabinet has decided that a child must be raised in the faith professed by both parents at the time of marriage in the event of any dispute.
However, Nazri said last year that "it was an open secret" that the Conference of Rulers objected to the implementation of the 2009 decision.
The Cabinet took that position following the case of Muslim convert Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah (K. Pathmanathan) who unilaterally converted his three children without permission of his Hindu wife, M. Indira Gandhi.
As for Zarinah, the factory worker at the centre of the Jais raid on Sunday, she told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that her Muslim name was registered by her estranged father, and she had been raised a Hindu.
She said her trips to the Shariah Court and the National Registration Department to remove the word "Islam" from her identity card had been in vain.
The incident has been condemned by Hindu and rights groups, as well as former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. – June 5, 2014.