Unilateral conversion cases: Vital for court ruling to be enforced immediately, says Wanita MCA

PETALING JAYA: The children embroiled in the two high profile unilateral conversion cases must be reunited with their mothers immediately, says Wanita MCA.

Its national chairman Datuk Heng Seai Kie welcomed the recent Federal Court decision to reject the bid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) to reinstate the conversion to Islam of five children by their Muslim-convert father without the mother’s consent.

Heng noted that the case was similar to the Indira Gandhi case, where the mothers have yet to be fully reunited with all their children despite receiving custody.

“While the recent Federal Court decision is welcome, more important now is enforcing the court's orders.

“Wanita MCA urges the fathers in both cases to adhere to the courts’ orders and deliver the children to their respective mothers, failing which, the authorities must step in.

“Wanita MCA also implores parents to refrain from peddling their children as pawns to up the emotional ante against their spouses.

“Likewise, embracing another faith should be due to personal beliefs and not to seek an advantage, as doing so will erroneously depict such religion unfavourably.

“We appeal to troubled couples to seek counselling to resolve their marital problems and try to salvage their nuptials.

“If the differences are irreconcilable, please do try to reach an amicable divorce and avoid a contested divorce. The latter should always be the last option.

“Child snatching or denying the other parent from meeting with their child, except in cases where there is abuse, should not even be contemplated,” said Heng in a statement.

Heng praised the Federal Court judges for their “bold and just judgement”.

“The judges must be lauded for their astute justice for independently and boldly ruling according to the law, and disallowing personal convictions or societal pressures from interfering,” she said.

She added that the Federal Court decision in Indira Gandhi’s case had made it clear that children who have yet to attain the age of 18 years require the consent of both mother and father for any religious conversion.

The 33-year-old mother in the Mais case had filed a judicial review to revoke the registration and declaration on her five children’s conversion to Islam by her former husband, which was done without her knowledge.

In allowing the mother’s judicial review, High Court judge Datuk Seri Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah held that the Federal Court’s decision in the Indira Gandhi's case was binding on the lower courts and that the Selangor enactment clearly stated that both father and mother must consent to their children’s conversion.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court last year.

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