Nazri: Will govt amend Constitution to stop unilateral conversion?

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Nazri Abdul Aziz has questioned if the government will amend the Federal Consitution to stop the unilateral conversion of a minor to another religion by one parent.

The former law minister also asked whether the administration planned to amend the Constitution to grant citizenship to children born abroad to Malaysian women with foreign spouses.

Nazri (BN-Padang Rengas) wanted to know if these were among the slew of reforms slated to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

“It’s not right for a father who converted to another religion to also convert his children without the consent of the mother.

“He has no right to do so unless he discussed it first with his wife,” he said in his debate on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Citing the unilateral conversion cases of M Indira Gandhi and Loh Siew Hong, Nazri said they reflect badly on Islam, a religion that advocates justice.

“As a Muslim, I am not proud of these issues.

“Malaysia which (recognises) Islam as its official religion has the responsibility to take care of the rights of the minority. We actually oppress the minority if we do nothing about it,” he said, adding that this could instil fear among non-Malays.

As such, Nazri said the government cannot allow such “constructive coercion” from continuing.

“I would like to ask: will the government amend the Constitution to amend the incorrect interpretation of the word ‘parents’?”

He said the Malay version of the Federal Constitution which interpreted “parent” as “ibu atau bapa” (mother or father) should be corrected to stop unilateral conversions and reflect the court ruling.

In 2018, the Federal Court ruled in the unilateral conversion case involving the children of kindergarten teacher Indira that the Federal Constitution requires the consent of both parents to determine their children’s religion.

Despite the apex court verdict, several unilateral conversions continue to take place, including the latest case involving single mother Loh.

Last month, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted by Free Malaysia Today as saying the court system is the best avenue to find a solution to Loh’s three children’s unilateral conversion to Islam.

Citizenship for children born abroad

Nazri also asked the government if it will amend the law to reflect an apex court ruling on citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers who are married to foreign nationals.

“Secondly, I would like to know if the government planned to amend the Constitution so that citizenship will be given to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses,” he said.

On Sept 9 last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship.

Wan Junaidi, together with Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun, had hailed the landmark ruling.

An appeal filed by the government was dismissed by the Court of Appeal last December.