Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 26th April 2009:
Whereabouts of year-old baby girl Prasana Diksa shapes up to be first major test of Najib’s “Performance Now” motto
When Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced “Performance Now” as one of the three mottos of his government’s overarching philosophy, he would have realized that it would be put to a test early in his premiership.
Najib should have been realistic enough to know that he would not enjoy the luxury of a political honeymoon of “The First 100 Days”, but it is unlikely that he expected it to come under a major test immediately after his first three weeks as Prime Minister and in the form of a year-old baby girl Prasana Diksa.
In Ipoh, kindergarten teacher M. Indira Ghandi’s vigil for the return of her daughter, Prasana Diksa, who is still being breastfed, is coming to 48 hours since the Ipoh High Court judgment on Friday granting her interim custody of her three children, Tevi Darsiny, 12, Karan Dinish 11 and Prasana Diksa; a restraining order against her husband K. Pathmanathan, who has assumed the name Mohd Redzuan Abdullah after conversion to Islam, until full custody hearing on May 12; ordered the husband to surrender Prasana to the mother and a mandamus to the police to assist Indira in the matter.
Prasana was forcibly taken away from Indira last month by her husband, who forcibly converted the three children to Islam without her knowledge or consent.
Yesterday, I had asked the Ipoh police officers how long more will Indira have to wait before the police could discover the baby’s whereabouts and return her to the mother.
I told them that it would reflect very poorly on the capabilities and performance of the Ipoh police if they could not find the baby girl and return her immediately to her mother, as if the baby has just disappeared!
After a five-year-long procrastination from the Everest mountaineer Moorthy case, the Cabinet has finally announced a commendable solution for controversial religious conversions resulting in family breakups and injustices – firstly, that children of divorced parents be brought up in the common religion at the time of marriage when one parent converts to another religion and secondly, that conversion must not be used as a ground to automatically dissolve a marriage or to get custody of children.
However, the Cabinet decision has no meaning for Indira Ghandi, who is still pining for her baby girl Prasana Diksa, who had been forcibly taken away from her for a month.
As a result, Prasana Diksa’s whereabouts has also shaped up to be first major test of Najib’s “Performance Now” motto.
The ministerial committee to deal with Prasana Diksa case headed by Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of KPI for Ministers and Unity, should visit Ipoh to do their utmost to resolve the issue by getting Prasana Diksa returned to her mother without any further delay.
Najib, who visited Indonesia recently, should take serious note of the observation by Indonesian Islamic scholar and former Foreign Minister, Dr. Alwi Abdurrahman Shihab in Malaysia a few days ago that issues of forced conversion of children to Islam are unknown in Indonesia, while in Malaysia, it has been allowed to be an increasingly polarizing factor in race and religious relations – a most unhealthy phenomenon which should not be allowed to be continued if Najib is serious about another motto of his overarching philosophy, 1Malaysia!
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor