A very good piece of news indeed… and I really got a lift last night when I read it on Malaysiakini.
Malaysiakini reported that :
The government today proposed new rules on converting to Islam, in a bid to prevent wrangles that have split families and incited racial tensions in this multicultural country.
“We are working on a law that non-Muslims who are converting to Islam must inform their spouse and family,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said after meeting Islamic religious authorities.
“They will have to fill out a form and declare that they have informed their family of the pending conversion,” he said.
The move follows a series of allegations of “body-snatching” by Islamic authorities, who have seized remains for burial according to Muslim rites, against the objections of non-Muslim family members
This blog has repeated urged the enactment of such as mechanism to prevent not only body snatching incidents such as what the Gan family experienced when the elder Gan passed away in January, but also any misunderstanding or foul play that may be involved in such a conversion.. Please read my post on this in January 2008 : A mechanism or a Law is needed to prevent conversion controversy.
In fact even much earlier, I have written another post on this need of a mechanism for conversion controversy. In June 2007, I have written a post which was also published as a letter in Malaysiakini. I will quote part of the article here for the sake of those who are new to this blog:
After all the letters and views expressed recently in media such as Malaysiakini on the issue of conversion , I suggest that the government should enact a law to inform, as a matter of courtesy and an obligation under the oath of matrimony, the spouse of a person wishing to convert to Islam.
This law must specify that when a person converts to Islam, it should be made compulsory to inform his or her spouse and his/her spouse should sign a statement before an officer of law acknowledging that he or she has been informed.
There should also be a period of , say, 2 weeks between informing the spouse and the actual conversion, so that the couple can have a heart to heart discussion on the matter. This is necessary because any conversion will have a direct impact on the spouse regarding the status of children, the inheritance, the burial and so on.
This will avoid a lot of confusion or misunderstanding like in the case of the Mt Everest climber Moorthy Maniam, a Hindu bybirth but buried as a Muslim in 2005.
Islamic administration officials”acquired” the body after a headline grabbing tussle for it with Moorthy’swife Kaliammal, saying he had secretly converted to Islam.
Kaliammal disputed the claim and asked the court to declare her husband a Hindu, but the court instead said since one party is a Muslim the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
By making it compulsory to inform the spouse, at least the spouse will be given a choice whether to seek separation from the other party or follow the partner’s path and be converted as well.
I have argued that if you believe in a certain faith, you should let your family members know and not keep it a secret. What is there to be secretive if you really believe what you do is right?
So, by having such a mechanism, doubtful conversion such as the Gan Eng For incident can be avoided. For those who are not familiar with the case, they can go and view the documents in this link… documents which leave a lot of questions unanswered……
(Pls also look at this picture in this post: How do you feel?)
Another piece of good news is that NST reported today that the PM would be setting up a judicial Commission to decide on the promotion and appointments of judges. This is also what this blog has been fighting for.
I hope things can be speed-ed up and this Judicial commission would go the way of the proposed IPCMC which was supposed to be set up 4 years ago and which until now, we are still waiting.
If the government has been doing all these during the past few years, it would have won itself more votes and support and the 12 GE results would be much different.
Well, it is still not too late. Institute reforms such as ICAC, overhaul the civil service, reform the education system, bring back the glory to our universities and judiciary, give more freedom to the expression of opinion, allow more press freedom, do away with ISA, release the Hindraf 5, reform the police and the Election Commission, bring back the local government elections, give fairer treatment to all, etc etc…If the government is able to do all these in the next few months , I am sure they would get back the support that they lost.