Amend word parent to mean both mother and father: Wanita MCA

PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers have called for the Federal Constitution to be amended for the word "parent" to mean both mother and father and not singular.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie (pix) said if in Article 12(4) the word "parent" refers to either mother or father, then it should be amended to refer to both.

"If the Attorney General Chambers deems the proposed Section 88A as in conflict with the Federal Constitution, then the AG Chambers and lawmakers from both sides of the fence must table a Bill to amend Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution to enshrine in stone that 'parent' means 'ibubapa'", she said in a statement today.

The Clause 88A under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 which would in effect ban unilateral conversions of minors should a parent decide to convert to Islam, was withdrawn as it was deemed to be unconstitutional.

"Legislations are not enacted to be retrospective in accordance with judicial judgements, but rather to improve for the progress and protection of society, minority groups included. There must be mutual respect vis-a-vis the rakyat of different religions, which is the crux and basis for promoting and achieving racial harmony and unity," she added.

Heng also asked how "ibubapa" was mysteriously switched to "ibu atau bapa" in the Bill without going through Parliamentary proceedings.

"It is important to investigate how "ibubapa" was mysteriously switched to "ibu atau bapa" without going through Parliamentary proceedings, and whether this subterfuge alteration is legal and binding. As this mysterious printing modification in the 'Perlembagaan Persekutuan' was not debated in Parliament, much less officially gazetted, can its interpretation by the judiciary to mean singular be thus construed as correct and not-flawed?" she asked.

She also pointed out that retired Malay civil servants G25 group have correctly pointed out that up till 2002, Perkara 12(4) of the Federal Constitution clearly spelt out that a minor child's faith is to be determined by "ibubapa" which means both parents, not by a single parent without going through the legislative process nor gazetted by the Dewan Rakyat and the Senate.

"Wanita MCA reiterates our shock and disappointment at the sudden withdrawal of Section 88A as this Clause was the key reason to amend the Legal Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act," she added.