Muslims must elect more PAS lawmakers who share their religion to prevent legal safeguards against unilateral conversion of minors, the Islamist party said after yesterday’s landmark Federal Court ruling on the matter.
Kelantan PAS legal bureau chief Nik Bahrum Nik Abdullah (Pic) said Muslims must “unite” to prevent the reintroduction of a clause in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act that sought to bar the practice.
Putrajaya previously withdrew a clause to amend Section 88A of the law, following complaints by religious groups and authorities, but this was overtaken yesterday after the apex court ruled in the case of M. Indira Gandhi that unilateral conversion was unlawful.
The decision has renewed calls for Putrajaya to formalise the safeguards in law, rather than forcing those affected to seek relief through the court system.
“We have no choice but to increase the amount of PAS MPs who have been consistent in this issue. Imagine, if PAS is the majority. Surely we can formulate laws according to the desire of the religion,” he wrote.
He urged Malaysian Muslims to vote for candidates who think “through the lens of Islam” as a result.
Despite the Federal Court emphatically stating the Federal Constitution provision on conversion required the consent of both parents where applicable, Nik Bahrum insisted that there are “two versions” of the interpretation, which can be followed by any other judge in the country.
Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution uses the word “parent” in referring to unilateral conversion. A contemporary Bahasa Malaysia translation used the term “ibu atau bapa” (father or mother), but the apex court yesterday ruled that the word parent in the spirit of the law refers to both parents and not just one.
Nik Bahrum said that the confusion would still reign unless the government re-introduces the amendment to the Law Reform Act to put the matter to rest — a move that PAS has resolved to block.