The leaders and elites of our country have shown once again how useless they are when it comes to defending the institutions and values we live by. They talk about high-minded principles in flowery language, but the reality is they always succumb to whatever is politically convenient. They play the game as it suits them. I am tired of them, and I am sure I am not the only one.
When they recently announced the appointment of the Chief Justice, there were widespread comments that it was unconstitutional. They should have at least told us why they preferred the option that the Prime Minister favoured. Couldn’t they have sought another opinion? Would it have been so difficult to refer the matter to the Federal Court?
Are they truly satisfied calling themselves the “defenders of the race and religion? Doesn’t truth matter? Couldn’t they show some respect to Opposition leaders who represent the majority of the people of this country, or do they expect respect to be a one-way street?
In Parliament yesterday, several Barisan Nasional Ministers put up another nauseating political show when they explained why a clause that prohibited the unilateral conversion of children could not be included in a new Bill being tabled.
They said it was a matter of the Constitution, but it’s not. It’s a matter of a ridiculous decision by the Federal Court 10 years ago. These BN Ministers have never raised the constitutionality issue since then. They have tried to introduce this Bill in the Dewan many times, but they have always buckled under pressure from the Talibans and withdrawn it in the last minute.
Have Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam or Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Co. ever raised the constitutional issue before? No. At any rate, if passed by Parliament, the new law overrides any decision the Federal Court has made in the case of R. Subashini. Until the new law banning unilateral conversion is decided at the highest level, it stays valid. So what’s the constitutional issue?
MIC and MCA readily agree with the Attorney-General’s view that the clause in question, Clause 88, is unconstitutional. Let me remind them that it is the Cabinet that makes policy—if the Attorney-General disagrees with the policy then he can resign. If it’s the policy or decision of the Cabinet that unilateral conversion should not be allowed, then the Attorney-General has to find a way to implement that decision. It’s that simple.
The law not permitting unilateral conversion is meant to recognise that each parent has equal say in the upbringing of their child. It also recognises the principle that, under the Constitution, the Government protects all religions.
MCA and MIC cannot defend even these simple principles because they are preoccupied with staying in the BN. They do everything possible to please UMNO and PAS — paying homage to UMNO supersedes everything. What kind of political struggle is that?