If MIC has “played it safe” by not voicing out against the withdrawal of Section 88A in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (amendment) Bill (LRA), how can it be trusted to fight for other issues related to the Indian community?
This is one of the questions put forward in a hard-hitting editorial in the Tamil daily, Makkal Osai, today.
“Section 88A of the act could have guarded the interests of Indians, who form the minority. The sudden withdrawal of this section only shows that the parties responsible have very little regard for the community.
“On which stage, can MIC preach to fight for Indian rights next time?” asked the editorial.
The scrapped Section 88A stipulates that : “Where a party to a marriage has converted to Islam, the religion of any child of the marriage shall remain as the religion of the parties to the marriage prior to the conversion, except where both parties to the marriage agree to a conversion of the child to Islam, subject always to the wishes of the child when he or she has attained the age of eighteen years.”
“Where the parties to the marriage professed different religions prior to the conversion of one spouse to Islam, a child of the marriage shall be at liberty to remain in the religion of either one of the prior religions of the parties before the conversion to Islam.”
Critics of the withdrawal have said the withdrawn section could have remedied the agony of mothers like M Indira Gandhi and S Deepa, who are locked in a messy child custodial battle with their respective ex-husbands, who had converted to Islam, and converted their children as well.
MIC president and Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam did little to appease the Indian anger arising from the withdrawal of the said section, saying they should accept the new bill as it contains safeguards to families if unilateral conversions take place.
“The current attempt to reintroduce the amendment without 88A is to allow the public to get the benefit of the other amendments while we continue relentlessly to address the issues of unilateral conversion,” he had said in a Facebook post.
He was referring to current amendments, which among others, will allow marriages where one partner has converted to Islam, to be dissolved in the civil courts.
Makkal Osai further said that unilateral conversions adversely affect the children involved in the disputes, as they will be forced to follow the religion they are “unwillingly” converted into, even into adulthood.
“If Section 88A was passed, Indira Gandhi’s children would have ended up under her care. Under the new amendments, it is now almost impossible for her to get her children back from her ex-husband.
“This does not only concern Indira Gandhi. The act could have provided reassurance to your children and mine. How can you possibly agree for such a provision to be cast aside?
“You claim to have been fighting for the Indian community for the past 60 years. Is this how you ‘fight’? You claim to champion the causes of the community, but whose cause do you fight? Umno’s? Do you realise that you have now become a slave for Umno? ” the editorial lambasted, addressing MIC.