New Act should be based on the Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution
The Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC), Eight Major Chinese Youth-based Organization (EMCO), Fo Guang Shan Malaysia and the Buddhist Research Society of Malaysia
Protest strongly against the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013(D.R.1/2013) (“the 2013 Bill”), which has been tabled during the first session of the 13th Parliament of Malaysia. The 2013 Bill provides for the unilateral conversion of minors to the religion of Islam by one parent, which is contrary to the basic right of religious freedom under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, and at the same time legalizes the erosion of the rights of non-Muslims in Malaysia.
Recently, several court decisions on the affairs that relate to non-Muslims have aroused the concerns and worries of the non-Muslim community. Thus, it is the Government’s obligation to rectify these judicial errors, in order to restore public confidence in the Malaysian Judiciary. We support the legal discourse raised by the Bar Council and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) that Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution has to be respected and that the mutual consent of both parents is required for the conversion of minor children to any religion.
The spirit of the Federal Constitution that was agreeable by all parties before independence must be respected and all other bills must be enacted on this foundation. Thus, the Government should also amend bills which are in conflict with this understanding. At the same time, the Government as an administrative body has to set a good example in upholding our constitutional right to religious freedom. Furthermore, on April 22, 2009, the Cabinet made a decision that a Muslim convert cannot convert his or her minor children to the religion of Islam without the consent of his or her spouse. The 2013 Bill has undoubtedly overridden that Cabinet decision and totally contradicts the same. This only reinforces the people’s believe that good decisions of the Government which benefits the people cannot seem to be properly implemented; and this would only result in the people’s further disappointment in the Government.
In addition, we urge the Government to rectify Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution to ensure that cases related to non-Muslims are heard in civil courts. We also urge that the High Court judges boldly implement the spirit of the Federal Constitution in upholding our freedom of religious beliefs. We call upon the Government to respect the feelings of non-Muslims and consult non-Islamic religious organizations in cases involving non-Muslims.
As our country is moving towards more emphasis on justice and freedom, our religious freedom is an important indicator. Therefore, we urge all the Members of Parliament regardless of their political affiliations to debate and oppose the2013 Bill. We also urge all the people of Malaysia to say NO to this bill.
Members of MBCC: Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia, Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia, Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Fo Guang Malaysia, Theravada Buddhist Council of MalaysiaMembers of EMCO: Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Malaysia Christian Youth Association, United Youth Movement of Malaysia, Malaysia Entrepreneurs’ Development Association, Malaysian Young Graduates Association, The Federation of Clans and Guilds Youth Association of Malaysia, Junior Chamber International Malaysia, Young Malaysians Movement