GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should break his silence and make a firm and uncompromising Cabinet decision on inter-faith custody issues.
Ipoh Barat MP and DAP national vice-chairman M Kulasegaran said Najib must inform the public if his Cabinet was committed to enforcing its 2009 decision banning unilateral conversion of minors.
He said if so, Najib must publicly inform when the law would be amended in Parliament to conform with and enforce the executive ban.
But, he said if the Cabinet had abandoned the 2009 decision, the Prime Minister must explain to the people the reasons for the U-turn and how the government would resolve interfaith custody matters.
Kulasegaran is the legal counsel for M Indira Gandhi, who is involved in a bitter legal battle with her Muslim convert ex-husband Ridzuan Abdullah, previously known as K Patmanathan, over the custody of their youngest six-year-old daughter, Prasana Diksa.
“The Prime Minister must show his political courage and will in Indira Gandhi’s case and interfaith custody matters,” Kulasegaran said in a statement here today.
He pointed out that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom, had said in a written reply to him on June 17 in Parliament that the government had no intention of amending the law in compliance with the Cabinet ban.
Jamil Khir quoted the case of Shamala Sathiyaseelan vs Dr Jeyaganesh C Mogarajah L Anor (2004) and said that based on the decision, the consent of one parent is sufficient in deciding a minor’s religion as the word parent in Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution is parent or guardian, and not parents or guardians that means either father or mother or guardian.
The Prime Minister has yet to break his silence on Jamil Khir’s reply.
In April 2009, Ridzuan took away Prasana, then 11 months old, and converted her and her two siblings, Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11, to Islam without Indira Gandhi’s knowledge.
The High Court later granted Indira Gandhi full custody of all three children.
On May 30, Ipoh High Court judge Lee Swee Seng issued a warrant of arrest against Ridzuan for contempt after he repeatedly failed to return Prasana.
“Indira Gandhi’s agony and trauma are not yet over after five years of pain and suffering, even after having obtained a court order,” said Kulasegaran.