Sunday, January 17, 2016

Kula: Subra being hung out to dry

Terence Netto

Is the cabinet in control of government policy on the unilateral conversion of minors or are ‘little Napoleons’ in charge?

This query was posed by DAP national vice-chair M Kulasegaran in response to MIC president S Subramaniam’s reiteration of cabinet policy formulated in 2009 that disputes in civil marriages must be adjudicated in a civil court.

Health Minister Subramaniam announced yesterday that last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting rehashed the 2009 policy, thus indicating that there has been no change to the policy formulated when the issue of unilateral conversions of minor flared in the public domain that year.

Ipoh kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi had taken the issue to court in 2009 when her estranged husband converted to Islam and unilaterally did the same for their three children.

Lawyer Kulasegaran, who is also MP for Ipoh Barat, appeared for Indira in the matter before the High Court, where all his client’s challenges were resolutely opposed by representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Informed of Subramaniam’s interpretation of what transpired at last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, Kulasegaran said, “Are we to conclude that on the issue of unilateral conversion of minors the cabinet decided one way but ‘little Napoleons’ decided another way?”

He said that at every step of his client’s recourse to a civil remedy of her predicament, the AG’s Chambers, an adjunct of the government, had opposed it.

“Hence my query on who is in charge on policy making in respect of unilateral conversion of minors - if it the cabinet or ‘little Napoleons’? ” asked Kulasegaran.

He said it would not be unfounded for him to speculate that the MIC chief is being “hung out to dry” because of mounting discontent in his party over the fate of Indira and her three children, the youngest of whom is still in the custody her former husband who had taken the child away when she was only 11 months old and was still being breastfed.

An Ipoh High Court order for release of the child to the care of the mother was ignored by the police.

“Public sympathy over her predicament has compelled Subramaniam to dust up for rehashing a policy that has been countermanded by the actions of the AG’s Chambers,” observed Kulasegaran.

“He’s been hung out to dry and doesn’t seem to know it,” said the DAP leader.

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