Abdullah’s Islam Hadhari concept was viewed positively by the non-Muslim communities in the country. It was said to be a turning point towards making Malaysia a more tolerance society.
However under the span of five years instead of being more tolerance – religious animosity becoming worse – a non-Muslim woman dragged into a Syariah court instead of civil court, temples were demolished, Christian books banned and the word ‘Allah’ become source of a court fight.
Non-Muslim which forming more than 40 percent of the country population increasingly wary of the whole scenario. Not too long Abdullah was given the marching out order – from a stunning victory in 2004, he was humiliated in 2008 by the disgruntled voters.
When he left the Putrajaya thrown – no one was seen crying and new hope dawn in the country. Perhaps, many sigh relief that he is no longer there.
Najib and the new hope
Although Najib’s ascension to power were nothing like when Abdullah was taking over from Mahathir. Najib also seems to consciously aware of his low rating among Malaysians voters and the peril of missteps while in the job.
Thus, he done away with rhetoric a trademark under Abdullah’s administration – ‘work for me not with me’ or ‘I’m the prime minister for all Malaysians’. Najib instead called for an inclusive governance under his 1Malaysia concept and said the time for government knows best – is over. Implement a performance base administration.
There is also a glimmer of hope especially among the non-Muslim communities. Najib’s cabinet yesterday decided that children of parents where one of them opts to convert must be raised in the common religion at the time of marriage.
In a rare statement, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri said it was decided in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a spouse who has converted into Islam would also have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil marriage laws.
“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape marriage responsibilities. Conversion is not a grounds for the automatic dissolution of a marriage,” Nazri said at a press conference at Parliament building Thursday, according to The Star.
“The children should be brought up in the common religion. For the spouse who intends to convert into Islam, he or she would also have to come clean,” he said.
Nazri said religious conversion must come with the innocent party being protected from being victimised, as well as protection being affored to the new religion of the converted person.
“Civil marriages have to be resolved according to civil laws. The conversion takes effect on the day of conversion and is not restropective.
“The convert would have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil laws prior to the conversion,” he added.
Nazri also said the Cabinet has instructed the Attorney-General to look at all relevant laws which needed to be amended in line with what has been decided on civil marriage laws and others.
For Islamic enactment, he said the matters have to be brought up with the respective Sultans as they are the heads of religion in their respective states.
Religious conversion – Indra vs Patmanathan
It’s a thorny issue. A conversion to Muslim is legal, but not vice versa. On April 15, a distraught mother Indra Ghandhi, 35 had sought the help of the Hindu Sangam branch in Ipoh after her husband K. Patmanathan (Mohd Ridzuan) a convert, converted their three children without the presence and without informing her.
Patmanathan allegedly used the children’s birth certificates to get them converted. The youngest child is said to be in the father’s custody.
The tussle dragged on when Patmanathan has since been trying to take custody of the other two children, Tevi Darsiny, 12, and Karan Dinish, 11, with a Syariah court order being served on the children’s school.
Nazri said the Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Mej-Gen (R) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom would meet the man now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah.
The same applied to several outstanding cases where Nazri said the Cabinet had decided to have a long term solution on this and not to discuss it case by case in the Cabinet.
“We would also like to hear from the public if they feel that there are loopholes or weaknesses in these cases.
“We welcome feedback and are open to any suggestion. We are not afraid to enhance or reverse our position,’’ he said.
Nazri said the Government forsaw that Malaysia, being a multi-racial society, would see more conversion cases in the future.
It’s almost feel like a complete reversal of previous policy – which often reluctance to make a stance and often left its to the judiciary to decide.