Thursday, November 26, 2009

Make a stand on conversions, Shahrizat told

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was asked to clarify if it was government policy to convert young children, especially minors, into Islam while being under the care of government welfare homes.

NONEPKR Kedah deputy youth chief Gooi Hsiao Leung said Shahrizat's clarification was imperative following a controversial statement by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Mashitah Ibrahim, who praised such conversions.

"Mashitah's statement is scandalous and reckless. Shahrizat should take an immediate stand on it," said Gooi.

He also wants Shahrizat to clarify whether Mashitah's remarks were made in her personal capacity or from her official position in the Putrajaya administration.

Gooi, a practicing lawyer, is the legal counsel for S Banggarma, 27, who had claimed she was converted by Islamic authorities at the age of seven.

She alleged the conversion took place on Dec 28, 1989 while she was residing in a welfare home - Rumah Kanak Kanak Taman Bakti, Kepala Batas.

Banggarma wants Islamic authorities to nullify her conversion on the grounds of illegal conversion of minor without parental approval.

It is also to enable her to restore her rightful Hindu identity so that she can move on with her life.

The welfare department, however, claimed that Banggarma together with her other siblings were converted at the age of one by her natural Hindu parents.

'Shocking statement by a deputy minister'

Gooi has demanded the welfare department director-general Meme Zainal Rashid to furnish his client documented evidence to substantiate her claim that Banggarma was converted on Nov 30, 1983 in Rompin, Pahang.

NONEMashitah was quoted as saying it was commendable for the orphanage to take the initiative to preach about Islam and convert Banggarma to Islam and it was also its responsibility to teach her about the religion.

"It is shocking that a deputy minister had condoned conversion of young children living under the care of government run welfare homes," said Gooi.

"Welfare homes' primary functions are to provide care and protection to helpless abandoned children or where parents are unable to care for them until they turn 18.

"It would be entirely outside the scope of their duties and a blatant abuse of their powers to convert young children's religions, whether it is to Islam or to any other religion for that matter," added Gooi.

He said Mashitah's statement was also inconsistent with the remarks made by the Muslim Welfare Organisation of Malaysia's secretary general Abdul Hamid Othman.

Abdul Hamid said it was inappropriate to convert a child before he or she reached 18, although the welfare homes can educate the children about the Islamic religion.

Gooi said as the minister in charge of women, family and community affairs, Shahrizat has a duty to explain the government's religious policy to all Malaysians.

"It is of utmost public importance for Shahrizat to immediately clarify the government's position," he said

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seals: Dont be a humpty dumpty la. This cause more damage and fear ....

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