Malaysia promises to amend marriage law to address conversion issues

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| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 27 Aug 2016 | Asia Samachar |

The Malaysian government has given an assurance that the it will will amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to resolve issues and problems when a spouse converts to Islam, a long standing issue that has been hotly debated.

On 26 Aug 2016, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the amendments will be tabled in the next Dewan Rakyat meeting in October.

“The amendments are meant to resolve any dispute between civil and syariah courts when a spouse embraces Islam,” he told a women’s gathering on Thursday….“Any vacuum or overlap in existing laws can be resolved once changes are made to the Act.”

“The decision to amend the Act has been agreed by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Cabinet…We are aware that this has been an issue and we want to find a solution to this problem,” he said when launching the national Women’s Day celebration, reports The Star.

The loophole has seen a number of cases being battled out in the courts of law where one of the spouses, usually the husband, would convert to Islam and attempt to unilaterally change the status of their children’s faith as well.
One of them is S Deepa who has been embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-husband who embraced Islam and quietly converted their two children for almost four years.

Another cases involves indergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi. Her legal wrangle her ex-husband, Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, formerly known as K. Pathmanathan, began in April 2009 when he took their youngest child Prasana Diksa, then 11 months old, and converted to Islam. The two older children – Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11– remained with their mother.

She is not very hopeful with the latest attempts on amending the laws.

“I’ve heard the same thing since 2009. For years, the Government has been saying it will table the amendments but up until now, nothing has been done…I’ve been waiting for too long and lost far too much,” she said in a report in The Star (S. Deepa welcomes proposal to amend Marriage and Divorce Act, 27 Aug 2016). “It’s been seven years and I still don’t have my daughter back.”

 

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