Stay off Hadi’s Bill or Muslims may derail divorce law reforms, PAS warns non-Muslims

Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (left) speaks at a press conference at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, November 28, 2016. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (left) speaks at a press conference at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, November 28, 2016. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 ― Non-Muslims must “play fair” by refraining from interfering with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to upgrade the Shariah courts, party secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said today.

Continued opposition to Hadi’s Bill may see Muslims retaliate by opposing the proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 that would bar unilateral conversion of children into Islam, he warned.

“If Act 355 is being interfered with, we worry that the Muslims will not agree with the [proposed amendments] to the Law Reform [Act] which also has something to do with Muslims,” he said in a press conference, referring to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

“We must play the fair game, don't disturb the rights of Muslims, and Muslims will not trouble the non-Muslims.

“If they want to play like that, we can also go against the proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act,” he added.

De facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said last week submitted the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill that proposes to prevent single spouse conversions to Islam from unilaterally affecting either civil marriages or the children born from these.

The new Bill, which also specifically addressed the “Religion of a Child” in civil marriages where one spouse has converted to Islam, said that the child will remain in the religion of the parents at the time of marriage until the child is 18 years old, when he many choose his own religion.

The issue of unilateral conversions became controversial in recent years after several cases, including M. Indira Gandhi and S Deepa’s cases, who both faced lengthy court battles to gain custody and also reverse the unilateral conversion of their children by their Muslim convert ex-husbands.

Takiyuddin also claimed today that Muslims had always respected and compromised on issues concerning non-Muslim community.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang read Thursday his motion for the amended version of his private member’s Bill to amend Act 355 in a bid to expand the punitive powers of the Shariah courts, but he deferred it to the next time Parliament convenes in 2017.

The amended version of Hadi’s Bill seeks to increase the Shariah punishment ceiling to 30 years’ prison, a RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.

Shariah courts are currently only allowed to mete out a three-year jail sentence, a RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.

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