Saturday, March 5, 2016

Conversion, corruption, cover-up main themes in Dewan Rakyat

Putrajaya risks failing the people, especially those affected, if it does not bring the necessary amendments to prevent unilateral conversion of children in the Dewan Rakyat meeting, starting tomorrow with the Agong's royal address. Anticipation and expectations are high that the government will table the necessary amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) 1993 and Family Law (Federal Territories) 1984 soon. Minister in charge of law, Nancy Shukri previously indicated the amendments would be pushed at this sitting, but said last month, the amendment process was ongoing and that they planned to present it in Parliament only in June. However, there has been escalating public debate over the issue of conversion, especially since the court battles of M. Indira Gandhi and S. Deepa against their former husbands who unilaterally converted their children to Islam. A group of Hindu non-governmental organisations led by Hindu Sangam said there are more than 7,000 such cases yet to be resolved and have placed high hopes on Nancy, who assured them of a meeting with the prime minister soon to resolve the issues.   To date, however, the draft legislation has not been distributed to lawmakers, Ipoh Barat MP M. Kula Segaran said. "The government has promised to table the necessary amendments to prevent unilateral conversion and to this effect, a Cabinet committee of five ministers was formed. "But to date, the draft legislation has yet to be distributed to us," Kula told The Malaysian Insider. Parliament will meet for 20 days until April 7, with the first two weeks dedicated to debating the motion on the royal address. The talk of a no-confidence motion against the prime minister is also being revived after former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led an unprecedented movement among civil society groups and opposition leaders on Friday in a bid to topple Datuk Seri Najib Razak over claims of mismanagement related to state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). PKR lawmaker Wong Chen said the latest developments might bring about an attack on Najib through a sudden vote of no-confidence in Parliament, but admitted that there has been no clear indication of Barisan Nasional MPs siding with Dr Mahathir. "Until they officially side with Tun M on his move to oust the prime minister, a vote of no-confidence will likely not happen," he told The Malaysian Insider. A two-thirds majority is needed to push through the no-confidence motion. The opposition only has 88 seats out of 222 in the lower house. The Kelana Jaya MP said another way to send a message to the prime minister was to not pass any legislation, telling him he has lost the confidence of the house. Other legislations which may be tabled at this sitting include the proposed amendments to enhance penalties under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, as announced by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali last month. He said he was considering life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan as stiffer penalties under the OSA, and added that these could be extended to journalists who protected their sources. On Wednesday, however, the A-G assured the National Union of Journalists that the proposed amendments to enhance penalties were not aimed at journalists. In a development related to the OSA, the final audit report on 1MDB has been submitted by the auditor-general to the National Security Council for classification under the act. Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang briefed PAC members on the final audit into the troubled state investor fund on Friday and this is expected to continue tomorrow. It is also left to be seen if Putrajaya will heed the call by the Conference of Rulers to fine tune some of the provisions in the National Security Council (NSC) Bill, which was passed in the Dewan Rakyat on December 3. The bill provides special powers to the operations director and security forces to control and coordinate national security operations. The rulers said this after the A-G briefed them on the NSC Bill at the 240th meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was reported by Bernama as saying a special session will be held to commemorate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board. – March 6, 2016.]]>

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