KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said urged Muslim converts not to “hide behind Syariah court judges” in the name of Islam, but to settle responsibilities to their non-Muslim family. She said the amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 (LRA), does not deny or undermine the jurisdiction of syariah courts as argued by several PAS MPs.
After stopping the clock on Wednesday to debate the bill, the Dewan Rakyat passed it at 12.45am this morning. The LRA bill was re-tabled on Tuesday, after revoking Clause 88A that would have banned the unilateral conversion of a child to Islam.”I understand what you’re saying about the existence of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Act 1984. Everyone knows that, but this is to give them the space to file a petition. So (the convert) has a choice to solve the problem,” Azalina said in her winding up speech.
She stressed that some people convert to Islam and think they can abandon their non-Muslim families. “Yes he’s Muslim, but should he leave his (non-Muslim) family hanging just like that? I am not married, but even I am angry with this issue. You get married, then you convert and then and you run away from your responsibilities … don’t want to pay alimony after converting. Islam is a responsible religion,” Azalina said.
Referring to recent cases of convert husbands or fathers who left their non-Muslim families in a lurch after converting, she urged them to “be a gentleman” and settle their civil marriages. “Enter the civil court, and if you’re a man, then divorce according to the procedures. What do you fear that much that you want to run and hide behind the syariah court judge, simply because you are a Muslim. What about the wife, children and other matters?”