Monday, April 10, 2017

Press Statement by M Kula Segaran , DAP National Vice Chairperson and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on 10thApril, 2017
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Was there a BN consensus principle to defer amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976

On 25th last month, I had issued a statement expressing my worry and fear that the amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 might not be debated in the Parliament. In my statement on the Bill to amend the Act, I had said:-

“The above Bill was to be debated this week as it was listed as no.4 in the Order Paper of Parliament for the last two 2 weeks. Now in the 3rd week of the parliamentary session, has been pushed down to no 8. This clearly indicates there is no priority in getting this Bill passed”.

It is most sad , unfair and irresponsible that the Bill which was tabled in November last year and meant for debate in the just concluded parliament sitting was confirmed deferred on April 6.

Unilateral conversion of minors has inflicted many mothers and children for many years and it has taken the government seven long years to finally come up with the necessary amendments after the 2009 Cabinet’s decision to ban unilateral conversion of minors.

When the government tabled the amendment Bill last November, there was overwhelming support. Yet now the Bill has been deferred.

The BN government has failed M Indira Gandhi and others who have suffered so much trauma and injustice for so long, how could it now defer the amendments?

Isn't totally unfair and even heartless for the government to defer the Bill.

What could be worse from the deferment is that the Bill may not even be tabled in the next Parliament meeting.

According to Bernama report, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid has said the postponement was to ensure that the bill would not be in conflict with the fatwa (edict) issued on the matter and the Federal Constitution.

He said the amendments to Act 164 would be submitted to the Attorney-General for review with views obtained from religious experts, non-governmental organisations, political parties and individuals.

Bernama also reported that when asked on the time to be taken to review the amendments to the Act, he said it depended on the Attorney-General to study the legal aspects with views from various people committed to seeing the Act amended.

The government took 7 long years to finally come up with the decision to do the necessary amendments. Cabinet committees were formed and consultation with NGOs was carried out. It is therefore not convincing that the need for further consultation is the real cause for the Bill’s deferment.

The least Zahid could have done was to commit that the Bill will be retabled for second reading (debate) in the coming parliament sitting. But he did not do so and if the government could take 7 long years to come up with the amendments after the 2009 Cabinet’s decision to ban unilateral conversion of minors, who knows how long will it take for the amendments Bill to be re tabled? Or need another 7 more years?

When the BN supreme council recently decided against government‘s taking over Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend Act 355, BN component parties hailed the coalition’s consensus principle.

So the question is – was there a BN consensus principle to defer amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976?

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