M'sia to table marriage law amendments
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced yesterday that amendments to the marriage law would be tabled in the next Parliament session, possibly ending years of disputes over parenting rights between divorced Muslims and non-Muslim spouses.
He said the amendment would be founded on the principle of fairness for all so that couples can settle their marriage issues in civil court and move on with their lives.
He added that there was a need to address loopholes in the law or any overlapping ones in existing laws.
"The amendment of this Act will provide an opportunity for partners to resolve the issue of civil marriage in the civil courts, thus enabling them to continue their life like other couples to marry non-Muslims," Malaysian media reported Mr Najib as saying.
"At the same time, the clash between the Civil Court and Syariah Court arising from conversion to Islam by one of the spouses may be removed and the legislative gaps and duplication of the provisions within the existing law may be resolved."
Custodial tussles between Muslim and non-Muslim divorcees brought to light the issue of parenting rights after well-known court cases of unilateral conversion also highlighted issues of child support and custody.
Mr Najib said the amendments would "maintain the principle of plurality" besides upholding the rule of Islam.
In 2009, the Malaysian cabinet decided to bar unilateral conversion of children, but the proposed amendments were shelved from being tabled in Parliament after intervention by the Conference of Rulers.