Zahid to find out why the Nazri-Dr M debate cancelled

FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will look into the details behind the cancellation of the debate between Culture and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Zahid said the order to cancel the debate did not come from him or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“The decision was made by the Kuala Kangsar and Selangor police. Because it was an operational decision, there was no need for them to refer to me as Home Minister.

“However, I will look into the reasons of the police to have the debate cancelled.

“There must be reasons as to why the police did not reveal to the public the purpose behind the cancellation (of the debate). We have to respect their recommendation and decision,” he told reporters after visiting the International Modern Arabic School in Presint 14, here, today.

The much-anticipated debate between Nazri and Dr Mahathir was originally scheduled on March 25 in Kuala Kangsar but was postponed due to the failure to get police approval by the organisers.

The debate was then rescheduled to April 7 at Karangkraf’s headquarters in Shah Alam, but police have decided to cancel it after receiving information of a “credible” threat to public safety.

On another matter, Zahid said he would discuss with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on calls by Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria to withdraw the decision to table the Act 164 Bill Law Marriage and Divorce 1976.

“We respect Harussani’s views and fatwa. But as informed by the Dewan Rakyat speaker, we will give priority (for matters) of national interest. We hope that whatever decision made by the government will be accepted with an open heart.

“We respect all religions and rights of all races,” he said.

The bill deals with the issue of the religion of children of muallaf (Muslim-convert) parent.

In the proposed amendment of Act 164, the children of a divorced Muslim-convert cannot be registered as ‘Muslim’ by either parent, whether ex-husband or ex-wife, except with both the parents’ consent once the child reaches 18 years of age.

“This is a serious issue which is against the constitution, and Islam as the official religion in the constitution. It is also against the Syarak law,” said Harussani.