Political Storm Brewing in Selangor over Conversion Bill While Plot to Remove MB Thickens

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Unhappiness is brewing among Pakatan Harapan leaders in Selangor over a proposed amendment to allow the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam in the state.

  • As if PH does not have enough problems, Selangor MB brings up issue that has been settled by the Federal Court on unilateral conversions
  • Speculation that proposed amendment on unilateral conversions is to strengthen certain leaders’ political power among Malay voters
  • The bill believed to have been proposed by Selangor Islamic Council and supported by state palace 
  • Proposed amendment met with strong opposition from Harapan assemblypersons 
  • Attempt to push through the bill put MB at odds with state assembly speaker
  • Speculation rife about alleged plot to remove Amirudin 

A source from Selangor PH said leaders have asked Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari for an immediate meeting, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported.

“Why bring up an issue that has been settled by the Federal Court on unilateral conversions?

“Doesn’t PH have enough problems? We are struggling to fulfil promises made in PH’s manifesto but have to deal with people backpedalling on federal laws,” he told FMT.

He said it was not the right time to touch on religious issues as people are waiting for PH to improve the economy.

He added the meeting is likely to take place tomorrow and “all of us are waiting to question Amirudin” on the proposed amendment.

He said the speculation is that the proposed amendment on unilateral conversions is to strengthen certain leaders’ political power among the Malay voters as cracks between PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and his number 2, Mohamed Azmin Ali, emerged after a gay sex video surfaced in June.

“But in strengthening power, it may cause DAP to weaken. It may cause more non-Malays to be unhappy,” he said.

Another federal PKR leader said Selangor PKR leaders are also expected to meet Amirudin personally on the issue.

“Many do not want the Selangor state government to back peddle on this religious issue.

“Many of us are hoping for a new MB if he continues with this amendment as it may alienate the races further,” he said.

A PKR leader aligned to Anwar’s team said the proposed amendment should not be about gaining power

Another source said Amirudin could be called to the PKR’s disciplinary board soon for his statements linked to the gay sex video.

“If he is suspended, we want Idris to take over,” he said, referring to Ijok assemblyman Idris Ahmad to replace Amirudin.

The source said the push for Idris to be the next MB may be one of the reasons why Amirudin wants to strengthen his power in Selangor by gaining more Malay support.

Idris, who is aligned to Anwar’s team, was slated to be the Selangor menteri besar following Azmin’s appointment as a federal minister but the position went instead to Amirudin.

Amirudin, when contacted, said he had confirmed the meeting with PH leaders at his residence tomorrow.

FMT

However, state PKR deputy chairperson Hee Loy Sien downplayed the meeting’s significance, according to Malaysiakini.

“This is a regular Selangor Harapan meeting held every two months,” he said, adding that there would be five representatives from each component party present.

Following the meeting, Amirudin is scheduled to have dinner with Selangor PKR division leaders at a hotel in Shah Alam.

Malaysiakini reported earlier that the menteri besar attempted to push through an amendment to a state enactment to change the wordings regarding the conversion of minors.

At present, the enactment reads that those below 18 must obtain the consent of his or her “mother and father” before embracing Islam. The amendment seeks to change this to “mother or father.”

The Bahasa Malaysia version of the Federal Constitution also refers to “mother or father” with regard to consent for conversion but the Federal Court last year made a landmark ruling that the constitution should not be interpreted literally and the consent of both parents is needed for the conversion of minors.

However, this courted strong opposition from Harapan assemblypersons at a pre-council meeting on July 26.

“Almost everyone (assemblypersons) objected. Both PKR and Amanah were also divided,” said a PKR assemblyperson, who declined to be named.

“Even some of those in the menteri besar’s inner circle disagreed,” he claimed, adding that state exco members were also split on the matter.

It is understood the bill was proposed by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) and received support from the state palace.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

The attempt to push through the bill also reportedly put Amirudin at odds with Selangor state assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim.

Malaysiakini

Ng had reportedly cut short the Selangor assembly sitting last month which prevented the bill from being tabled.

The speaker, however, insisted that he acted in accordance with the Standing Orders and that all agendas had been settled.

The PKR source claimed that on the night the assembly sitting ended, the menteri besar quit a WhatsApp group for local assemblypersons.

“We don’t know what happened, but there are rumours he (Amirudin) might be in conflict with the speaker,” he said.

Other sources told Malaysiakini that at a later meeting Amirudin had with PKR’s Muslim assemblypersons and one Bersatu assemblyperson, the possibility of replacing the speaker was mooted.

However, PKR assemblypersons Juwairiya Zulkifli (Bukit Melawati) and Azmizam Zaman Huri (Port Klang) denied this.

There is also speculation in Harapan circles that Selangor’s four non-Muslim exco members would be summoned to the state palace tomorrow.

This was denied by DAP’s Teng Chang Kim, who said he had “no knowledge” of the matter.

Meanwhile, speculation is also rife about an alleged plot to remove Amirudin, who is an ally of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, as menteri besar.

According to sources, this was related to his remarks in the wake of a sex video implicating Azmin.

One source, who claimed to be in the dark over this plot, told Malaysiakini that he had learned from Anwar’s inner circle that Amirudin had privately apologised to the PKR president.

However, Anwar reportedly asked for a public apology, which Amirudin agreed to but has yet to make.