Forum on conversion under attack as another convert faces problem

August 7th, 2008 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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I was wondering how can it was all quiet when Bar Council announced its plan to organize a forum entitled “”Conversion to Islam: Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, Subashini and Shamala Revisited”. It took some time for the attacks to come, but boy they came strongly. Bar Council is under attack from all corners. Some, like Deputy PM Najib, are a bit mild:

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today it was not proper to hold the forum on “Conversion to Islam” openly.

As the religious matter was a sensitive issue, he said, the open forum — organised by the Bar Council and scheduled for Saturday — could provoke emotion among various quarters who might feel that the issue being discussed was against their stance.

The government, however, would not stop any form of discussions, including on religious matter, but felt that they should be held behind closed doors, he said.

“I don’t think that all these sensitive  matters can be discussed (openly). It’s better to talk about it behind closed doors.”

 


Others like Ahmad Zahid only dare to make noise at a Islamic forum (He spoke at the National Faraid and Hibah Convention today.). I wonder if he have the guts to speak to non-Muslims Malaysians who affected by suspect conversion cases.

He said the Bar Council should not interfere in matters related to Islamic affairs, the Malay Royalty and the Malays if it wanted to remain respected.
He said the Bar Council should be aware that the Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, which touches on religious matter and the Malay race, was a sensitive issue and should not be discussed openly as doing so would instigate the Malays.

“Even though there was already the first series of the forum and this will be the second, the silent majority among the Muslim community in Malaysia has not risen up to show their protest.

“But don’t make us do so,”

Syed Hamid also voiced his disagreement on the forum. He said yesterday that any dialogue or debate that could stoke racial sentiments and instil hatred should not be held.

 

 

He said there were more “pros than cons'” in having an open dialogue on the matter.”When discussions centre on sensitive matters such as religions or ideologies that could lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, such talks should be avoided from being held in the open,”

Said Syed Hamid: “What is it that we want to solve? Through such openness in discussing sensitive matters, do you think solutions can be found or made?”

Malaysiakini reports that PAS president emailed a statement as well opposing the forum:

 

 

“Although, PAS accepts the freedom of expression of various parties to dialogue and discuss issues of public interest, nevertheless, issues concerning Islam is something already guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

 

“As such, PAS feels if the forum goes ahead, it may raise tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims. This will jeopardise the  harmony of the country and will not be beneficial to anyone,” said Hadi.

 

Any discussion pertaining Islam, said Hadi, should involve those who had sufficient knowledge and are authorities in the subject.

 

“PAS is of the opinion that the Bar Council’s initiative, which is secular in nature, will only confuse the real understanding of Islam and cause undue tension.

“To guarantee stability between different religions and races, PAS calls for the forum to be cancelled.”

PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz also has his say:

The Kelantan Menteri Besar, who said he was wary about the forum’s objective, also suggested that the Bar Council organise other more constructive forums. “It’s better that we organise a forum where the Muslims and the non-Muslims can discuss the values of religion,” he told reporters.

He was commenting on the call by various parties, urging the Bar Council to call off the programme as it could affect the harmonious relations among the multiracial public.

Meanwhile, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the Bar Council should openly state the details of the subject matter to be discussed at the forum to avoid misunderstanding.

“Let it be known. If they say that they want to have a forum on conversion to Islam, it’s too general and wide and there will be a lot
of misunderstanding and negative perception. So they should state it openly and clearly,” he said.

Meanwhile, PEKIDA says it will hold a picket if the forum takes place on Saturday. Pekida president Jamaludin Yusof said its 100,000 members are currently awaiting instructions to protest the forum.

The forum, said Jamaludin, openly challenges Muslims as religious issues are sensitive.

“This is as if the Bar Council wants to challenge the position of Islam as the official religion of Malaysia by discussing issues which could cause political instability in the country,” said Jamaludin.

“Such discussions can cause Muslims to feel challenged,” he added.

Umno Youth executive council member Datuk Pirdaus Ismail said the forum could create uneasiness among the people, particularly among Muslims and warned the Bar Council Malaysia not to “stoke the fires of disunity.” The movement strongly opposed the Bar Council’s plan to organise an open forum on conversion to Islam.

“Don’t play with fire! Don’t ever touch religious and racial (matters)!” he said in a statement released on Thursday.

“Why has the Bar Council been stoking the fires of disunity lately — like they have been used by foreign powers who want to create chaos and intervene in the country’s internal affairs?” he said.

“Whatever (the) excuses given, the forum would still provoke Malay sentiment and create uneasiness and public disorder, particularly among the Malays,” he said in the statement.

He said the movement urged the authorities to implement preventive measures before the situation got out of hand.

Pirdaus said the Bar Council had previously also organised a forum on the much-discussed social contract, which incited anger among the Malays and created doubt in the other races.

“It is pointless to organise forums based on intellectualism, professionalism or controversial issues when the safety, peace, harmony and stability of the country were being compromised,” he added.

Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) Secretary-General Dr Roslan Mohammad Nor claimed the forum was intended to question the status of Islam under the Federal Constitution.

“PUM feels that any move to debate the Islamic principles and system, and the rights of Muslims without consulting those with authority on the subject, will only create confusion and misunderstanding towards Islam,” said Roslan, adding that the Bar Council should call off the forum.

Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia Secretary-General Datuk Dr Ma’Amor Osman said the Bar Council should not interprete the law according to its whims and fancies.

“Manipulating one’s expertise in law for personal gain is like stirring up the hornet’s nest,” he said.

I think the topic is quite clear – focus is on conversion, Article 121, and two cases (Subashini and Shamala). By all means, its talking about
non-muslims. What happens if one converts. Note the “if” in it. Its about the future actions of an individual. Someone is who not yet a muslim. Its not about Islam or Muslims. Its about the rest of the country. Don’t think as if you are the only one in the country who have rights la.

 

I think in future MCCBCHST should organise forums on these topics exclusively for their faith followers. Topics should cover – ‘how to spot an conversion attempt”, “what to do if someone tries to convert you”, “how to avoid being converted”, “how to undo conversions”, “the perils of conversion’. This should be done nationwide in temples, churches, monasteries, gurdhwaras and so on. We need this to protect our rights from disputable and damaging effects of converting to Islam.

 

Bar Council however are adamant that they will continue. Perhaps MCCBCHST, and other religious bodies should support Bar Council’s forum. Council vice-chairman Ragunath Kesavan said the council would continue.

“The issue to be debated involves the rights of parties which have not been clarified by the Federal Court,” he said, adding that it did not matter if the apex court was right or wrong in the matter.

Ragunath said a court ruling could be debated in a democratic society like Malaysia and that the body would not succumb to pressure on the matter.

He said it was not proper that problems faced by families in such situations be swept under the carpet.

“It is not proper that discussions and forums organised to address such concerns be disparaged, on the pretext that such forums can provoke misunderstanding.”

Ragunath said the problem would not go away if there was no open discussion and instead would only breed dissatisfaction, rumour mongering and hatred.

He said the council had invited all stakeholders to get a balanced view and a better understanding on the subject.

Ragunath said the council was not questioning Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution conferring jurisdiction to Syariah Courts.

“Our concern is that there are increasingly more families caught up in the conflict of laws arising from the conversion of one spouse to Islam.

“This issue must be addressed and we must all work to seek an acceptable solution for all concerned parties.”

As for the ladies concerned it was reported in late 2002 that Shamala had left the country, taking  her children, Saktiswaran, then 5, and Theiviswaran, 3 years and 8 months old, with her. Suhasini lost her appeal to unconvert her children and is waiting for another round of legal action, if I’m not mistaken.

 

Now, read the following case involving a lady who wants to leave Islam because she converted due marriage reasons:

An appeal by a Muslim convert to practise the religion of her choice as she had used her original Chinese name in her suit was dismissed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

In a majority ruling, the court said the convert’s Chinese name no longer existed following her conversion to Islam.

Judge Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud and Datuk Sulong Matjeraie were in the majority while Datuk Vincent Ng Kim Khoay dissented.

Tengku Baharudin said the appellant was not a legal entity as her previous name no longer existed after she had obtained a new identity card.

Following the ruling, two other similar appeals were also dismissed on the same grounds.

At the outset of the appeal, Tengku Baharudin asked parties whether the appeal was competent because the convert’s original Chinese name was used. Lim Yoke Khoon took the name of Noorashikin Lim Abdullah when she converted to Islam.

Lawyer Edmond Bon, who was appearing for Lim, said there was no confusion as to the identity of the person, whether she carried her Chinese name or Muslim name.

“She is a living, legal and natural person seeking legal rights to enforce her rights to convert out of Islam,” he said.

He said the respondents did not dispute this fact at the High Court.

Selangor State Legal Adviser Datin Paduka Zauyah Loth Khan, who appeared for the Selangor Religious Council and the state government, submitted that Lim’s appeal was incompetent because her identity card  carried a Muslim name.

“But the suit contained her Chinese name,” she said.

Senior Federal Counsel Arik Sanusi Yeop Johar said only the National Registration Department (NRD) was the rightful authority to change the name of a Malaysian.

He also said the Court of Appeal could decide on the legal status of the convert although the High Court had overlooked the matter.

In her originating summons, Lim, now 35, said she had to convert when she married a Muslim in 1994. She obtained a new identity card which carried her Muslim name.

She said she did not have a happy marriage, and three years later, when they were divorced, she wanted to become a Christian and marry a non-Muslim.

In June 2003, she made a statutory declaration and a deed poll declaring that she had renounced Islam and converted to Christianity and taken her original Chinese name.

She applied to the NRD to change her name and religion in the identity card. However, the NRD rejected her application and asked for a certificate from a syariah court or the Selangor Religious Council as proof that she had renounced Islam.

In 2003, she also filed an action in the High Court in Shah Alam seeking a declaration that she was no longer a Muslim.

She also wanted a court order to direct the NRD to amend details in her identity card

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8 comments

  1. vj says:

    It’s a shame for Indians. Look at them just a forum, so much of attack. What about the insult ? Why no Indian leaders open mouth??

    • hjk says:

      Convesrion is a thorny issue’s.Nowdays,I see large number of indian youths converting to christanity.Though we have to stand with them on issue’s on forced conversion by muslims,we should be very firm with this issuse.In time,we will see our temples,standing bare,nobody to attend them.I recently attend a inter-faith forum,all very sympathic on the plight of non-muslims,end of the forum,I was given a bible and a picture which say’s “jesus loves U”.I took it,because I don’t want to offend the pastour.I was really annoyed,that as a devout hindu,how can he do this to me?we have our own religion and have own form of worship.I think you must spread awarness on this christian conversion’s too.They may appear,they are for us.In the right time,when they gain our confidence and they will take about the “bible” and how it’s the truth and so on.Hindus are cornered by both Islam and christians.The sikhs and buddhists are not converting anybody into their religion as the other two.I have known many friends,who had converted to christanity in the last few years.yes,there are a tiny minority,who did converted to islam,when they marry malay woman.The number’s converted to christanity is truly shocking

  2. Killer says:

    Guys

    I can assure you that nothing positive will come out of this forum. In fact since when a forum has produced any results ? All happen in a forum is the “lepas -steam” and defamatory speeches by some ill-informed and emotional speakers.

    Only when we have all the stakeholders in that forum, we can start talking about solutions. Otherwise these forums do more damage and aggrevate the problem.

    I think we all admit this is a problem and the gap between the two sides are wide. The only way to discuss and solve is to bring to sides together and find some compromise. The govt simply cannot afford to ignore the viewpoints of Muslims who form the 60% of the population.

    If I am a Muslim, I will be angry too if non Muslims hold a forum to question aspects of my religion. Wouldn’t we get upset if some Muslims hold a forum to discuss the practice of Indians in building temples everywhere we wish ?

    • BlueMoon says:

      You have a double tongue, in artcle you’re self claiming as the hard core MS, in this artcle you’re saying that non-Muslims cant even hold a forum to discuss the issue of religious conversion. pathetic! You must be Samy Vellu’s Man

      • Killi Valavan says:

        Killer is well know umno leg massager ….. Dun believe me read thru all his comments all over . He always in defend for umno leaders and whatever they do.

  3. selvam says:

    First,of all I believe such forums should be held,but it should be include all the concerned party’s.The legal experts in civil law,sharia law,mufti’s (do take note that all muslim scholars don’t share the same opinion,the perak mufti had openly said,if anybody want to leave islam they should be allowed to do so),the effected party’s,possibly some PAS scholars (who might be sympathic).End of the day,what is the objective of this forum ? finding a solution to ensure legal clauses be drafted to protect the non-muslims (then those in power (the govt had to be included) or just use it as avenue to critise.One thing is important,confrontation is not best way forward for our indian community.Before I sign off,I would like pinpoint something.Back in the early 80’s there are lot of Indian ghetto’s and malay enclave’s in singapore,which acted as bastion for opposition party’s,the opposition was voted in over and over again.Sg govt,brought in hong kong,taiwanese,main-land chinese give them citizenship,within next decade demographic’s changed dramtically.I rember they used to be atleast 14 Indian ghetto’s with a significant Indian population,now there is not even one.There are resettled in different area or their election boundary’s merge with larger chinese population.I think we keep on having protests,forums without having any clear defination where are be heading,this will have negative implications to our society.It’s matter of time our neigbourhood’s will be filled up with indonesians with malaysian citizenship and we will become less significant.So whatever decison’s our community make’s,there after effect will be felt…if not sooner,than later.

  4. mauryaII says:

    Hindu religion if I am not mistaken is one of the oldest in the world. It has been in existance for millenniums than the other major religons of the world. We can say with certainty that Hinduism will exist for millenniums to come
    Hinduism is not an aggressive religion per se. It need not go out of the way to convert anyone. For that matter why should anyone in his right mind try and impose his religious philosophy on others. It is only when one feels insecure about his religion and its inherent weakness that one goes gloryfying it at the expense of other religions.

    Incidentally I am of the opinion that inter-faith forums are sometimes a sheer waste of time when one or two religions do not come with an open mind to discuss matters of common interest. It is difficult to rationalize with myopic religious fanatics who claim God as theirs and theirs only and only through their way of approach that one will find salvation.

    I fully support some of the following views expressed in the above article:
    1. how to spot a conversion attempt;
    2. what to do if someone tries to convert you;
    3. how to avoid being converted;
    4. how to undo conversions;
    5. the perils of conversions.

    I feel that under the present scenario where one religion seems to have the hagemony, ‘how to undo conversions’ is almost difficult to achieve.

    All followers of faiths other than Islam and Christianity should be made to understand their religions well through classes, seminars and forums. Once they understand their religions well they will realize that there is no necessacity to find salvation through other religions.

    Religion is something very personal. It is between man and his Maker. Attempts at crass indoctrination to convert under the belief that one is assured of going to heaven if one converts another to ones religion is immature to say the least.

    Who are we to say a person has gone astray from a given path and that he should be brought back to toe the line either dead or alive. It is akin to the Whip in parliament cracking the whip to punish members who break ranks!

    I wonder whether the hagemonistic fanatics have been given the ” WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE ” posters to snatch bodies or to rehabilitate the so-called apostates.

    Religion is a power keg. If handled negligently it will unleash untold misery. Let every stakeholder handle it with the utmost care.

  5. rajalingam says:

    I fully agree with u on your views.we are now in a “dire” situation.MIC had been bombarded in the last election,but not eliminated.Still functioning,as a “entity” in southern states.The opposition MP’s,of indian origin’s are either PKR or DAP.There are only seem to be more protests,more forums,more speeches in the temples.They keep on saying “free hindraf” and “abolish ISD” this seem’s to be part of their manthra.whenever the opposition MP’s take part,within minutes it will be uploaded in the Youtube website.It seem’s more like’s a publicity stunt for the polticians,rather than achieving anything construtive.I fear the Malaysian “Indian polticians” slowly becoming like their counterparts in tamilnadu.Only flashy words,with no substance.I am sure after the anwar’s election if he loses (hopefully not) or he will sentenced to jail…I am sure we gonna see “the evil twin of the umno emerging”.Despite all the protests, and forums it seem’s they are unusually not very confrontational.I fear the worst,if we keep it up