Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement Friday praising comments made Wednesday by Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan on conversion to Islam. Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said that Ong’s views are shared by Malaysians from all religious faiths in the country.

“Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. A person’s conversion to another religion should not cause pain and suffering for other members of the family,” said Vaithilingam. He asked state and federal government authorities to take necessary steps to fix loopholes in the law, so that Malaysians could freely practice religion in the country.

Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family.

Ong is the current Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Malaysian cabinet, and also serves as the secretary-general of the {{w|Malaysian Chinese Association]] (MCA) and Perak MCA chairman. In his Wednesday statement, he said that individuals who convert to Islam through the marriage process should be permitted to renounce the religion if they leave the marriage. Ong also stated that the religion of a minor child with one Muslim parent should be determined by both parents, or remain the same until the child turns 18.

Ong said that issues involving divorce, custody of children and inheritance in matters of constitutional rights of non-Muslims had increased dramatically in the last three years. Ong emphasized the importance of civil law as related to non-Muslims in the country, as opposed to that of Syariah (Sharia), Islamic religious law.

We urge the Government to be transparent in this process.

“Non-Muslims are not to be subjected to any form of Syariah laws and for any disputes or overlapping areas involving the jurisdiction of civil and Syariah courts, civil laws must prevail. […] We urge the Government to be transparent in this process,” said Ong.

Ong’s comments were made as part of an 11-page motion of thanks on the royal address. His motion was seconded by Bintulu Minister of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. Ong also spoke about the corruption, education, crime and security and the economy in his two-hour speech.

Of the 27 million people in Malaysia, 60 percent are Muslim Malaysian Malays, 25 percent are Chinese and mainly Buddhists or Christians, and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians and mainly Hindus.

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