Single mum Loh fails in bid to challenge kids' unilateral conversion

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has ruled that the three children of Loh Siew Hong are Muslims from their unilateral conversion to Islam by their father.

Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, in his decision, said that the force of evidence in the case suggested that Loh's three children, including twin daughters, continued to profess Islam even after she gained their custody.

"The applicant did not deny the affirmative assertion that the three children continued professing the religion of Islam in performing the daily Subuh prayers when they were in her custody," he said during online proceedings here on Thursday (May 11).

The judge was delivering his decision in a judicial review application filed by Loh in her bid to nullify the children's unilateral conversion by her ex-husband.

On the issue of conversion, the court found that there was no dispute that the certificates of conversion were issued for the children.

The certificates were issued after the first respondent, the Perlis State Registrar of Converts, was satisfied that the legal requirements under Section 107(1) of the Perlis 2006 Enactment were adhered to when the children had professed the Syahadah proclamation willingly.

Justice Wan Ahmad Farid said the certificates of conversion issued by the first respondent in the case were conclusive proof of the facts stated in the certificate.

He also cited an aspect in another unilateral conversion case, the Indira Gandhi case, which concerned the children's welfare.

"Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, there is no evidence before me that the three children are not happy staying with the applicant. Although this is another issue, it is quite related to the instant case.

"Therefore, the welfare of the children, within the meaning of Indira Gandhi, dictates that the status quo should remain," he said.

The court then dismissed the application for judicial review and made no order as to costs.

Loh, 35, had first filed for leave to initiate a judicial review application on March 25 last year, and named the Perlis State Registrar of Converts, Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council, Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and the Perlis state government as the first to fourth respondents.

The single mother is seeking a declaration that her three children, twin daughters and a son, are Hindus and her ex-husband, M. Nagahswaran, did not have the legal capacity to allow the Perlis State Registrar of Converts to register their children as converts without her consent.

She sought a declaration that her three children, as minors, do not have the legal capacity to convert to Islam without her consent.

On Aug 1, she successfully obtained the leave sought from the High Court as Justice Wan Ahmad Farid said her application had merits and that she had established an arguable case.

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