Unilateral conversion of minors to Islam issue to be referred to special committee for fine tuning, says religious affairs minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The matter pertaining to conversion to Islam for individuals under the age of 18 has been referred to the Special Committee to Review the Competency of State Legislative Assemblies to Enact Islamic Laws (Special Committee) to further fine tuning.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar said it was a temporary measure while it is taken to the next stage and so that it can be harmonised with existing laws.

He said currently seven states — Melaka; Sarawak; Negeri Sembilan; Perak; Kedah; Terengganu; and Perlis — along with the Federal Territories, require only the consent of one parent, either the father or mother, to convert children under 18, while the remaining five other states — Penang; Sabah; Johor; Selangor; and Pahang — require both parents’ consent.

Mohd Na’im stressed that the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) respected the Appeal Court’s decision to set aside the previous High Court ruling that declared Loh Siew Hong’s three children’s unilateral conversion to Islam by her ex-husband M Nagahswaran constitutional.

“I believe the ruling was made on the Appeal Court judges’ knowledge, experience and wisdom based on the provisions of the Federal Constitution and law in seeking the best solution for all, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,” he said, as he urged Malaysians to remain calm and not to make comments that could bring about an unhealthy situation that would affect the country’s unity and harmony. — Bernama



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