Respecting our children’s freedom

Amar Singh
The Malaysian Insider
July 02, 2013

I want to thank every media or editor that has spoken up against the proposal by our government to introduce a law allowing one parent to change their children’s religion. It shows the courage of that media/editor and expresses the opinion of the majority of Malaysians. This attempt by the government to introduce such a law is a violation of the basic human rights of any individual and shows how little they respect the fundamental freedoms of our children.

The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been available since 1989 and signed by our Malaysian Prime Minister in December 1994. The UNCRC outlines the basic rights that should be accorded to any child. The fact that Malaysia is signatory underlines that the government of Malaysia is committed to uphold these fundamental rights. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children.

Article 3 of the UNCRC clearly states that the best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect children. And that all adults, including the governing body of the country, should do what is best for children. This clearly includes policies and laws.

Article 14 speaks about the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. To quote “Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should help guide their children in these matters. The Convention respects the rights and duties of parents in providing religious and moral guidance to their children. Religious groups around the world have expressed support for the Convention, which indicates that it in no way prevents parents from bringing their children up within a religious tradition. At the same time, the Convention recognises that as children mature and are able to form their own views, some may question certain religious practices or cultural traditions. The Convention supports children’s right to examine their beliefs, but it also states that their right to express their beliefs implies respect for the rights and freedoms of others.”

This article acknowledges that it is our inherent right to choose what we want to believe in and this is in line with all religions of the world. No religion practises compulsion, only its misguided followers do so.

Every human being, child or adult must be given the freedom to choose what they want to believe in. To remove this is a breach of our fundamental freedoms. That we have laws prohibiting adults to choose their faith is unbelievable. To impose this on children without their choice is unthinkable.

No child, parent or professional of any religious persuasion I have spoken to in the past few days have disagreed with this. It is unthinkable that anyone can choose my job, marriage partner or even my next meal without my permission. But here we are, allowing one parent to make a decision on our most important choice in life. The truth is that neither parent should choose, the individual should do so when they are mature enough and also be allowed to change their choice later in life.

Article 4 of the UNCRC speaks of the responsibility of the government to take ALL available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Governments are obligated to help families protect children’s rights and create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential.

If the government introduces this law, it will violate the heart of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child. It will announce to the whole world that Malaysians are willing to trample on the basic rights of every child in the country. It will clearly show we do not respect our children as thinking individuals and are prepared to treat them as objects. This law is NOT in the best interests of children, which must be our primary concern.

Article 12 & 13 of the UNCRC speak about respecting the views of children when making decisions that affect them and as well as ensuring they have freedom of expression. I ask all Malaysians who respect children to uphold their fundamental freedoms. In our society where those in authority seldom listen to or consult children, let us collectively be their voice to oppose this injustice. I appeal to all Malaysians elected to public office to defeat this unjust legislation and place the interests and rights of our children at its rightful place.

  1. #1 by negarawan on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 - 11:19 pm

    The international society has to know and be aware that in Malaysia, racial and religious minorities are being literally bullied and forced by UMNO to submit themselves to unjust and inhumane laws and policies. UMNO must be taken to task at international level for breaking up the religious and racial harmony in Malaysia. A clear message must be given to Najip by the British government and EU community in London.

  2. #2 by worldpress on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 12:17 am

    The root of problem is EC

    Recent GE was like a scam EC protected a monkey system they need only 20% rural vote to win GE

    EC was the root of problem leading to coming problem, lie and corruption

    They are trying distract people demand the EC resignation

    We caught EC lie and cheat, do not simply get away

    No clean EC no corruption-free

  3. #3 by Sallang on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 2:33 pm

    I cannot comment about religion. However, I would like to relate it to being a vegetarian.
    I came across a kindergarten child who comes from a vegetarian family.
    Every morning, mother have to send vegetarian snacks for her.
    One day, I asked the mother, was she a vegetarian from her younger days? She replied,’No’.
    I did not ask at what age did she turn vegetarian.
    However, I asked her, ‘Are you not going to allow your child to taste KFC or McDonald?
    She simply smiled back at me.
    Very unfair to the child, don’t you think?

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