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It takes two to tango - or convert

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 01:33 PM PDT

The recent move by the Government to pass a Bill to allow any one parent to convert an underage child could have led to many problems. It's a good thing that cool heads prevailed and a solution acceptable to all is now being sought.

Dorairaj Nadason, The Star 

THIS is the true story of a relative. Many years ago, she was a young, attractive and impressionable girl.

And she fell in love with a handsome, dashing young man who drove flashy cars and had money to throw.

One thing led to another and they were married. In due time, a son was born.

And then came the nightmare.

The man decided he did not love her any more.

So, there was the divorce and a custody battle.

It went to court and the court gave custody to the mother.

One day, though, he came to the house, took the child and disappeared. A frantic search for the child began.

A few days later came the striking blow. He had converted to Islam and converted the child as well – and people were telling the girl that she had no more rights over the child as she was not a Muslim. She is a Hindu.

She was not going to be denied, though. She went back to the civil court – and won a ruling that she still had custody over the boy, because he had, in fact, been kidnapped from his legal parent.

Still, she could not afford to smile. The man and the child were missing.

For a year, using friends and private investigators, she scoured the country from Penang to Johor and in little towns like Kampar to find him.

The boy, meanwhile, was missing pre-school, being kept locked up indoors in various homes and being moved around the country.

To cut a long story short, she finally managed to get him back, and in school.

And both mum and boy are happy together now.

It was this story that came to my mind when the recent Administration of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was introduced.

It was scary that any one parent could convert a young child arbitrarily.

It may be okay if it is done with good intentions – but what if it is done just to spite the other party?

Spite, I believe, should not be and is not part of any religion.

There are also other converts I know. Back in my school days, an 18-year-old classmate was bent on embracing Islam.

His parents tried very hard to stop him. And classmates had long chats with him.

But he was adamant. He had read up on the religion and had had discussions with knowledgeable Muslims.

He felt the religion was a wonderful one and that he knew what he was doing. And he became a Muslim.

Now, that, we all have to respect.

Another friend, also a Hindu, chose to become a Christian after seeing the good work that churches did.

His wife and children chose to follow.

In fact, I think it was the children who got the whole thing going. Nothing wrong there, either.

But it seems wrong in cases of people like Siti Mariana Abdullah.

This 24-year-old claims she was converted by her mum, who had remarried a Muslim, when she was just 15. All her siblings remain Hindu.

She fled her mother and stepfather after a couple of years and lived with her siblings.

With a family like that, she claims she acted as a Hindu in all matters and even married one.

Now, with a child on the way, she is in limbo.

She is Muslim because she was converted as a child and, thus, her child will be Muslim. But the father of the child is Hindu.

Unless he too converts, he cannot claim the child as his – or even have his name on the birth certificate. That's a real quandary.

There is more to my relative's story. She remarried and had another child – a daughter.

That marriage, too, ended in divorce. And guess what, the second husband has since become a Muslim.

However, in this instance, he made no move to convert the daughter.

Now, his Muslim wife's children and his Hindu daughter are friends.

In fact, now that the long, acrimonious tussle has been over for many years, the children of the first husband who brought so much tears are also on good terms with their half-sister and half-brother.

They are all growing up happily. So, there can be a happy ending, if only there is a bit of compromise.

Which is why I am glad that the Bill that faced much opposition has been withdrawn for now.

The Deputy Prime Minister has promised that the Bill will stay withdrawn until the agreement of all stakeholders is received.

With that little bit of compromise, there can be a happy ending in Parliament too.

There is just one twist to the story. The first husband? He had never converted. It may well have been an elaborate hoax to deny the mum custody. Now, that would be spiteful.


You can’t teach an old politician new tricks

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 01:18 PM PDT

Those who have been elected are only there to serve that purpose, which is to represent those who elected them, with their best interests at heart.

Zan Azlee, TMI

What happens when an elected representative does something in office that is against the wishes of his electorate?

To be more specific, what if he does something without consulting his constituency and is mainly for his own personal benefit?

Well, in most cases around the world, this would be unethical and the elected representative would come under heated pressure and probably lose in the next election.

But in Malaysia, it happens to be quite all right. Because, you see, in this country, elected leaders are one step higher than normal people.

What they say is like gospel for everybody. Don't believe me? Then check out our newspapers. It is filled with elected leaders saying this and that as advise for the people.

Take for example, the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Ahmad Hamidi, who recently said that the Sedition Act should not be abolished.

He says this with full aplomb as if his judgement is the right one and should be the decision best for the country.

In truth, the Sedition Act is as archaic as the ISA and a sack of fosillised mammoth bones that is about to turn into petroleum and then processed by Petronas.

At the moment, the Sedition Act cover is just too wide and vague that it allows the authorities a lot of leeway for manipulation. So, it deserves at least an update.

Even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, announced much earlier (many times, even) that the act would be abolished.

And it is not just Ahmad Zahid who is against the abolition of the Act. Many other BN leaders are too. So, I guess this just shows that many leaders are still too entrenched in old politics.

This old politics is the one that makes them think they do not have to answer to anyone and that they were elected through divine intervention.

An elected representative needs to listen to what the public wants because they need to realise that it is this public that holds the fate of their political career.

As it is, the popular vote has already been lost by the Barisan Nasional. They cannot afford to further alienate this segment of the population.

It does not take a genius political analyst to deduce that the Malaysian public wants an immediate change. If it is not a change of the guards, then at least a change within.



Don’t take us for fools

Posted: 11 Jul 2013 01:12 PM PDT

Our country is in hopeless decline, politically as well as economically and I am another angry Malaysian. 


One cannot sweep everything under the carpet by comparing the Transparency International Corruption Index with that of other countries and say the situation is not that bad after all.

This is what the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Pemandu CEO Idris Jala was trying to do in his comment "In conversation with an angry Malaysian" which appeared in a local daily last month.

Of course the situation is not bad but worse. Our country is in hopeless decline, politically as well as economically and I am another angry Malaysian.

Idris was just trying to fiddle with the percentages and making a fool out of us. Let us not try to delude ourselves that being in the company of Latvia and Turkey is something we can be proud of! Even Rwanda, Dominica and Botswana did better than Malaysia in the corruption index rating.

He stated that despite there not being much corruption in the United States, Britain, Germany and Singapore these countries still have absolute and relative poverty.

There is absolute and relative poverty anywhere in the world but these governments have governed responsibly and are accountable for what they do.

Corruption is not tolerated or condoned and any abuse by those in high public and political office, when uncovered, will be punished without fear or favour in these countries!

Yes, not everyone in Singapore is rich but even if there was zero corruption in Singapore there will still be absolute and relative poverty there. So Idris' arguments are self-serving!

There is no corruption in many rural villages because the people are too involved in trying to earn a decent wage to think about corruption. Their beliefs in Allah and Islam will not allow them to be involved in corruption.

Idris said it was the shared responsibility of the people to stop corruption by not giving bribes. As long as there is giving there will be taking! How perceptive of you and how true, but Idris tell me what happens in Cabinet? As I see it there is a lot of taking but not much giving thereI

Illegal outflow of illicit funds

Checks and balances abounds to "manage" the rakyat but for the political elites NFC, PKFZ and Taib in Sarawak are just a few examples when the BN government closes one eye.

When will the Barisan Nasional government share with us the responsibility of not doing the giving to its own political elites and their cronies and when will they not do the taking from who ever is giving?

Idris tells us that Bank Negara has refuted the claims that 80% of illicit capital flow is from the proceeds of corruption. Then do you agree that RM873bil of illegal capital outflow has happen over the last 10 years?

There is something wrong somewhere with Bank Negara's inability to stem the illicit outflow of capital. Let us not quibble over the nuances of where that RM870bil originates! Why has this Barisan Nasional government not stop the illegal outflow of illicit funds? Is it due to the lack of political will or is Bank Negara acting on instructions of the government – tacit or implied?

Idris said it was totally wrong to say that this was due to government corruption so how would you describe what the Barisan Nasional government was doing to stem the outflow of illicit capital.

He talks of the South Koreans not complaining about not getting government contracts and just getting on with the job of being the best in the world. Maybe you should stop talking and trying to spin away Umno's and Barisan Nasional's obvious failings.

Just get on with your own responsibilities within the cabinet. Even if you start doing that now you will still have a long way to go to catch up with South Korea. I would go so far as to say that we have missed the train because its so laden with gravy meant for your peers! The gravy train is too burdened to be able to pick up enough speed to go anywhere!

You say that half the Singaporeans surveyed wanted to migrate for reasons best known to themselves. Let me tell you why Malaysians want to migrate in just two words – Barisan Nasional or to be more precise – just one word – Umno.

Talking about reducing our fiscal deficit from 6.6% to 4.5% last year can Idris elaborate on our mounting national debt that has been steadily mounting in the last 15 years and projected to be RM1 trillion by 2020.

This is without taking into consideration the private debt and part of it that is publicly guaranteed because all this add to the government debt burden.

Idris said it was public perception that the crime rate was is increasing.

He also pointed out that in Britain that crime rate was increasing when in fact it was decreasing.

The British public holds their government strictly accountable for everything that it does, including press freedom.

They made Rupert Murdoch own up for what his newspapers do in Britain and corruption among the police, government servants and politicians are always under the scrutiny of NGOs and independent bodies.



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