Free Malaysia Today
Marriage and divorce are family problems between husband and wife, but in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country such as Malaysia, many of the interracial and interfaith marriages have ended with many controversies in cognitive differences and conflict of interest pertaining to conversion of religion, apostasy and child custody which escalated to social and national problems.
In order to solve the problem arising from the conversion of religion after divorce, the government has announced last year that it would amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Act 1976, so that the pending controversial issue of conversion of religion and the fighting for the custody of children can be resolved.
However, the course of good thing never run smooth, the government has deferred for the second time the amendment Bill; and the latest Bill does not include the proposed Clause 88A which prohibits the unilateral conversion of the minor, this has disappointed the moderate Muslims and non-Muslim leaders particularly women’s right organizations.
Ending the fight for custody of children
The issue regarding the conversion of religion has been bothering the nation for decades, many of the opposition political parties, non-governmental organizations and the moderate Muslim bodies have all opined that the government lacks the determination to reform the law and had failed to fulfil the promise of resolving the issue of conversion of religion and fighting for the custody of children. Some Members of Parliament opined that this is because the Barisan Nasional government is trying to keep the votes of conservative Muslims.
Viewing from the perspective of multi-ethnicity, multi-cultural and freedom of religion belief of the country, in accordance to the secularized Constitution and the principle of civil judicature, it is necessary for the government to hold open dialogue before the Bill is passed, balancing the conflicts among the relationships on the principle of fairness.
Stop hurting the children again
In the case of parental divorce, the biggest harm to the children is not the social discrimination against children in divorced families, and also not the fact that both parents decided to separate, after all in the single parental family, at least there is either father or mother to take care of the children.
The real harm to the children is the physical and verbal battle between the parents. Such damage is enough to destroy the child’s sense of security, a sense of belonging, and even affect their whole life.
More importantly, the law is no more than human kindness, in the case of children custody hearing, children’s welfare and growth should be given the greatest consideration.