Their silence led to the contentious Bill being tabled in Parliament on June 26 for its first reading – but barely a week later, thanks to the uproar coming from many quarters, the Bill which allows the consent of just one parent before a child is converted to Islam, has now been placed on the backburner, with the excuse given by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that the Bill needs to be studied further.
The truth is that while Muhyiddin knows it is foolish to continue intimidating the non-Muslim Malaysians’, there is no saying whether he or his boss Najib Tun Razak have learnt their lesson the hard way, as seen from the wholehearted rejection of the Bill.
As for the non-Muslim ministers who chose to keep their mouths shut when the Bill was being deliberated at the Cabinet meeting, it is proof that these ministers are first and foremost politicians out to safeguard their own interests, whatever these concerns maybe at this point in time.
Hopefully the chiding from the Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS) serves as a wake up call to these non-Muslim ministers who have forgotten that their priority is to serve the rakyat, not to the contrary.
MIPAS secretary S Barathidasan was correct in every way when he said that the non-Muslim ministers were to be blamed for not speaking out against the Bill which allowed for unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.
Maybe Barathidasan had overestimated the commitment of these ministers ie.e to make the rakyat their one and only focus.
Either these non-Muslim ministers are not interested in nipping discrimination against the rakyat in its bud or they are playing their cards well, trying to please their boss, prime minister Najib to keep their politial career going.
That explains why no minister, with the exception of Tourism Minister, Nazri Aziz, had said a word about the controversial Bill which has been in the news since 2009 and which is of big concern to the non-Muslims of this country.
(Clause 107(b) of the new bill states that a non-Muslim can convert to Islam if he is of sound mind, but a subject below the age of 18 can do so with the consent of his or her mother, father or guardian).
Non-Muslim ministers playing politics
When Muhyiddin announced that Cabinet had decided to withdraw the lopsided Bill until approval of all stakeholders was received, MCA Young Professional Bureau chief Chua Tee Yong and MIC president G Palanivel wasted no time in sucking up to their political masters.
While Chua claimed that the Cabinet’s decision not to proceed with the Bill showed that the Barisan Nasional government respected the rights of all races, Palanivel said it was a fair move, one that took into consideration everyone’s sensitivities.
The gracious thanks to the government by Chua and Palanivel over the withdrawal of the Bill is proof that the duo are simply out and out politicians, not leaders who truly care for the rakyat’s welfare.
Had Chua and Palanivel been true to their task of ‘people first’, they would have objected to the Bill when it was discussed at length during the Cabinet meeting.
Did Chua and Palanivel not have the guts to face Najib and express their dissatisfation over the discriminatory Bill? Or did the conversion issue not interest Chua, Palanivel and the other non-Muslim ministers enough to challenge its ‘legitimacy’?
Why then the press statements thanking the government for not going ahead with the Bill when all the noise could have been made at the Cabinet meeting?
If the non-Muslim ministers think they can have the best of both worlds i.e. please their political tauke and hoodwink the rakyat, they are in for a rude shock. '
Five years to buck up or else…
The BN government has five years before the 14th general election takes place to proof its worthiness to the rakyat. However, going by the look of things, it appears that the time at hand is not being used judiciously by both BN and its ministers.
The federal government’s indifference towards the conversion Bill is just one such example.
Remember this picture? This is what DISGUST is all about.
Now, we can understand why there were no objections from the non-Muslim ministers when it was first tabled at cabinet level. The "YES, BOSS" syndrome is here to stay.