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Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Ipoh on Friday, 1st May 2009: 

Call on MCA and Gerakan to end their unprincipled politics of opportunism and hypocrisy with national leaders supporting Cabinet decision on “common religion” for children in unilateral controversial conversion cases while their Perak leaders refusing to support it at the state level

MCA and Gerakan leaders have not learned the message of the March 8 “political tsunami” last year, when both parties were thrashed in the parliamentary and state general elections.

In the past 11 months, MCA and Gerakan have lost even more public confidence, which was why, according to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, the Barisan Nasional only secured 11% of the Chinese votes in the recent Bukit Gantang by-election, causing Nazri to remark that Umno must go on its own to regain the support of non-Malay voters and not depend on other Barisan Nasional component parties.

Shared with Gerakan’s by-election efforts and giving MCA the benefit of the doubt as to who wielded greater influence with the Chinese voters in Bukit Gantang, this means that MCA could only influence at most six per cent, and Gerakan five per cent, of the Chinese voters!

Why is this so?

The answer is very simple – the people can see through the continuing hypocrisy and double standards of the MCA and Gerakan leaders.

The latest example of MCA and Gerakan’s continuing unprincipled politics of opportunism and hypocrisy is the recent Cabinet decision on “common religion” for children in controversial unilateral conversion cases - that the civil marriage has to be settled by the civil court and the religion of their children be the common religion at the time their parents were married at civil law.

This Cabinet decision arose from the latest case of controversial unilateral conversion where Ipoh kindergarten teacher Indira Ghandi’s three children Tevi Darsiny 12, Karan Dinish 11 and year-old Prasana Diksa were converted by her husband K. Pathmanathan, now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, without her consent.

The Cabinet also decided that the year-old baby daughter, Prasana Diksa, forcibly taken away by the father for more than a month although she was still being breastfed by Indira, should be returned to the mother.

This was the decision of the Cabinet, supported by MCA and Cabinet Ministers. However, this decision is not supported by the usurper Perak Barisan Nasional state government, which includes an MCA Exco member and Gerakan appointed adviser who is none other than the Gerakan Deputy Chairman Datuk Chan Ko Yuan.

The refusal of the usurper Perak Barisan Nasional state government, together with the leaders from its component parties of MCA and Gerakan, to give full support to the Cabinet decision is all the more shocking and deplorable as the “forced conversion” of Indira’s three children is clearly unIslamic, invalid and violate Perak’s Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2004.

This has been clearly pointed out by a researcher at the International Institute for Advanced Islamic Studies (IIAIS), Mohamad Hafiz Hassan (Malaysian Insider) who said the current law relating to conversion to Islam in Perak is Section 96 of the enactment.

Mohamad Hafiz states:

“The provisions relating to requirements for conversion to Islam are found in section 96 of the enactment. It states, among others, that for a valid conversion of a person to Islam, the person (a) must utter in reasonably intelligible Arabic the two clauses of affirmation of faith; (2) must be aware that the two clauses mean “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is the Messenger of Allah”; and (3) must utter the two clauses on his or her own free will.

“As soon the person finished uttering the two clauses, he or she becomes a Muslim and shall be referred to as a muallaf (s 97). A muallaf is defined as a person who has just converted to Islam (s 2).

“The muallaf may then apply to the Registrar of Muallaf for registration as a muallaf. If the registrar is satisfied that the requirements of s 96 have been fulfilled, he may register the muallaf’s name and other particulars in the Register of Muallafs.

“In so doing, the registrar has a duty to determine the date of conversion to Islam and enter the date in the register (s 100).

“There is another provision which is of particular importance. It is section 101 which provides that the registrar shall issue a certificate of conversion to every person whose conversion has been registered. It also provides that the certificate of conversion shall be conclusive proof of the facts stated therein.

“There is also section 106 which provides that a person may convert to Islam only if he or she is of sound mind and has attained the age of 18 years. If below that age, he or she must have the consent of the parent or guardian.”

Mohamad Hafiz asked:

“So, how could a child be converted to Islam by the parent? The parent can only consent to the child’s conversion. The child’s conversion to Islam, in any case, is not valid if the child has not uttered the affirmation of faith on his or her own free will.

“A certificate of conversion, if ever issued, will not remedy the non-compliance with requirements of a valid conversion to Islam.”

Are the conversion of Indira’s three children by Pathmanaban/Ridzuan valid?

This is Mohamad Hafiz’ answer.

“Does the conversion to Islam by a parent make his or her children Muslims? The answer lies in section 2 which defines “Muslim” as … (b) a person either or both of whose parents were at the time of the person’s birth, a Muslim;(e) a person who has converted to Islam in accordance with section 96.

It is clear that Indira’s three children have not been validly converted to Islam as neither one of the two provisions of valid conversion had been complied with.

It is most shocking that the usurper Perak Barisan Nasional state government has refused to give full support to the Cabinet decision, both on the “common religion” decision as well as to take all necessary measures to help Indira get back her baby daughter.

It is doubly shocking that the MCA and Gerakan leaders in Perak are prepared at the Perak state level to be a party to the refusal of the usurper Perak Barisan Nasional government to give full support to the Cabinet decision – playing the double game of MCA and Gerakan support for the Cabinet’s “common religion” position at the national level but not at the state level.

The MCA and Gerakan leaders should stop this unprincipled politics of opportunity and hypocrisy.

The MCA and Gerakan leaders in Perak should not only give full support to the Cabinet decision but ensure that the usurper Perak BN state government make such a clear stand without equivocation, failing which they should withdraw from the usurper Perak BN state government.

Alternatively, the national leadership of MCA and Gerakan should repudiate their respective state leaders in Perak for a most unprincipled and opportunistic stand.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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