How much longer, Hindu mum asks after law to ban child conversion deferred

BY RAM ANAND
M. Indira Gandhi, who faced an eight-year ordeal after her three children were unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex-husband, expressed sadness and disappointment over the government’s decision. — Picture by Choo Choy May


KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi today rued her long wait for “justice” after Putrajaya delayed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 meant to end unilateral conversions.

The amendment Bill did not emerge during yesterday’s Parliament sitting and was removed from the Order Paper today, meaning it will only resurface at the next session in July at the soonest.

Indira, who faced an eight-year ordeal after her three children were unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex-husband, expressed sadness and disappointment over the government’s decision.

“I was given the assurance that the Bill will be passed this time; I was hoping at least something will happen this time,” said an emotional Indira during a press conference at the media area in Parliament this morning.

Putrajaya, despite repeated promises, deferred the Bill despite extending Parliament hours for a record 20 hours until 5.05 am earlier today to pass a slew of other government bills.

The Bills were passed to pave way for PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to increase Shariah Court sentencing.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said was quoted as saying by the Berita Harian newspaper that the LRA amendments were deferred following consultation with lawyers.

“The fate of my children is still uncertain. I need my justice, it’s already been eight years, how many more years do I have to wait?” she said.

Indira was accompanied by DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, who is also her lawyer in her battle to reverse the unilateral conversion of her three children, and members from Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG).

Kula also criticised Putrajaya and government leaders for “misleading” them into believing the Bill would be tabled in this session, and demanded an explanation.

“This is a necessary bill for non-Muslims. Why are they preventing it?” he asked.

The amendment is facing resistance from Muslim lawmakers, lawyers and non-governmental organisations who contend that it was unconstitutional.