Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Friday that the controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 will soon be withdrawn.
Muhyiddin informed that the Cabinet decided to hold back the Bill from the Dewan Rakyat (Malaysia's lower house of the Parliament) since its proposal had sparked off severe criticism from various groups.
The bill, which had okayed one parent's consent for the religious conversion of a minor, was faced with opposition from several quarters,
Amidst the growing displeasure, Muhyiddin said, "The Cabinet has discussed in depth the issue of the status of a child's religion when his mother or father converts to Islam. We agreed that the Bill's withdrawal was necessary to ensure that such cases were resolved in a fair manner to all."
"The withdrawal will also provide time for the Government and all sides to relook the law in a holistic manner. And, it will only be retabled once an agreement is reached with all sides."
"The Government believes that Islam is a fair religion to humanity and thus disputes over the status of a child's religion must be resolved fairly based on the principles of justice in Islam," The Star Online quoted Muhyiddin.
The move saw the backing of Malaysian Indian congress (MIC) president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel and Datuk Chua Tee Yong chief of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)'s Young Professional Bureau.
MCA's Chua told Asia One, "We thank the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Cabinet in ensuring that the bill is not tabled. This shows that the government respects the rights of all races and will not implement new regulations that will harm the unity of the country."
"Going forward, we hope new Bills that may be contentious should involve public engagement to show that the Government is transparent and willing to listen to feedback from all groups before making a decision," he added.
The proposal in traditional Malay text, which clearly mentioned that the child who has not reached 18 years of age can be converted with the consent of mother or father or guardian, had caused concern.
Interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism had earlier declared the bill unconstitutional and said, "Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong."