Posts Tagged ‘conversion’

55 seek asylum in UK in 2010

May 6th, 2011
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I do receive comments from readers asking about converting back to original religion after making hasty/ill-advised decision earlier to convert out. Well, I guess one way is to seek asylum in foreign country, if you got the cash to go there. But if you don’t even have a proper birth certificate or MyKad, can’t use this option.

China Press reported that 55 Malaysians sought asylum in Britain last year, citing reasons which touched on their religion, sexual orientation and political freedom.

Five of them said that they were seeking religious freedom, six said they wanted to escape prosecution for being homosexuals while three sought political asylum.

– from


HRP brings identification document case to NRD

September 26th, 2010
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Well done! Its a good move by HRP. I agree its not a easy thing to do as lot of time and patience is required (imagine discussing for eight hours! And that too just to complete application and submit it). Just imagine the illiterate and underserved members of public going through this process. Most likely give up due to the various rules and regulations, and restrictions. Not everyone can do, even though many can talk about it. Hopefully this batch of 10 people get some good news in two months time (but I have my doubts).

With MIC running their SITF programs in few places, hopefully can see some cases coming to a good closure.

The Human Rights Party (HRP) claims it has achieved its aim of upholding the constitutional right for freedom of religion, in bringing relief to 10 Indian Malaysians who were caught in conversion turmoil for years.

The 10 victims of allegedly forced conversions are from the three families of Rajina a/p Krishnan, Rani a/p Kandasamy and Banggarma a/p Subramaniam (left).

On Tuesday, HRP central committee member S Thiagarajan took them to the National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters in Putrajaya to iron out the long outstanding issue with seven NRD officers.
According to Thiagarajan, it took over eight hours of persuasion and reasoning with the NRD officers headed by NRD’s births, deaths and adoptions deputy director I Azliza Shaharudin to complete this application process for the change of name.

Initially, HRP encountered resistance from Azliza who after perusal of the documents, rejected the applications on the grounds that these three cases should be brought to the Syariah Court for the change of name and religion to Hindu.
After obtaining the Syariah Court order, only then should they apply for changes in their identity cards and birth certificates at the NRD, she had stated.

Constitutional aspects discussed
But HRP instead briefed Azliza and her officers on the constitutional and legal aspects as well as the United Nations (UN) International Covenant provisions that stated:
1) By virtue of Section 6 of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Special Provisions) Act 1975 “A registrar (of births) shall record such particulars as may be prescribed in a report book in the prescribed form concerning any birth or death given to him by any person qualified to do so.
2) Article 11 of the federal constitution (freedom of religion) and 11(1) that says “every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and to propagate it”.
3) The federal constitution is the highest law of the country and is above all other laws, with no disrespect including Islamic laws which are only subsidiary to the federal constitution.
4) Article 14 of the federal constitution read with Part II of the Second Schedule provides for citizenship by “operation of law” and “for every person born within the federation of whose parents one at least is at the time of birth either a citizen or permanently resident in the federation.
5) Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (that Malaysia ratified in 1995) provides, “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents”.
6) It also states parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
After HRP’s briefing on the six rights, Azliza called the respective NRD officers to look into the various conversion cases.
Rajina’s two-year-old son Tinesh has no birth certificate, since the NRD office in Johor had at the birth of her son refused to include the name of his natural father Mahendran a/l Habimanan and his religion as Hindu in his birth certificate.
Then for Banggarma’s two children, Hisyanthini and Kanagaraj, application forms were sought to change their religious status to Hindu and include their father’s name Sockalingam a/l Suppiah into their birth certificates, which column had been filled up with the words “Maklumat Tidak Diperolehi” (details not available).
Thiagarajan had also questioned Azliza as to how this could happen when the mother had confirmed that Sockalingam is the natural father, pointing out that this is in contravention of Section 5(1)(a) and (b) of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1975.
Rani had been told that the amendments she sought in the birth certificates of her children could not be carried out as the birth certificate is only issued once in their life time and it is to remain the history of their birth.
The application to change the name and the status from Islam to Hindu was rejected by virtue of Section 15(1) of the Registration Births and Deaths Act 1975.

‘NRD must be independent’
However HRP informed the families that they could use Section 27(3) of the same Act to make corrections to the name and their religious status.
Rani and others with officer - HRP, converts meeting with NRDThey proceeded to submit six applications for changes to the records.
This included the case of Rani’s (far left in photo) elder daughter Vijaya Letchumy who has a Hindu name but whose religious status in the NRD computer system is Islam, a discrepancy that prevented her from registering her marriage to her Hindu husband Tamilarasan a/l M Rajendran.
According to Thiagarajan, the NRD officers had told them that they would revert to the applicants regarding these six changes within two months’ time.
HRP will be taking the second batch of ten stateless Malaysian Indians to see the NRD next week.
Earlier on Aug 13, a HRP team led by pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar (right) had started the groundwork for this venture with a three-hour meeting with births, deaths and adoptions director Mohd Azmin Hassan and 12 of his senior officers at their Putrajaya office.
At this meeting the HRP team had emphasised that NRD should act on an independent, non-racial and non-religious basis, in a move to eliminate statelessness and uphold the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Banggarma and Rani ask for divine intervention

August 24th, 2010
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These two ladies literally challenged the stated religion’s authorities. I wonder what the body snatchers are going to do now. Probably haul them to syariah court or order counseling? This will be considered as apostasy I guess, so may be fine, jail and rehabilitation.

We can see that most of the problems faced is due to their parents. I guess this gives an idea of the perils of converting due to marriage. I hope our makkal will think carefully before making the fateful decision, so that the chance of our children suffering will be reduced. No point making wrong decision and regret later.

Two women seen in the eyes of the law as Muslims but who consider themselves as Hindus took part in the Timithi Vizla (annual fire walking ceremony) at the Sri Muthu Mariamman Kovil temple in Parit Buntar last Friday.

NONEAccording to Parit Buntar district Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) chief M Sivakumar, S Banggarma (left), 28, (Muslim name Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah) had carried the milk pot for a kilometre from Muneesuarar temple to the Sri Muthu Mariamman temple praying for a swift solution to her conversion dilemma.

Rani @ Jamillah Abdul Kadir, 46, also attended the temple function asking for the same favour.

At the religious function, the HRP also went on a signature campaign to highlight the plight of four women trapped in a religious twilight zone.

Besides Banggarma and Rani, M Indira Gandhi and Regina Mohd Zaini, are also attempting to seek royal intervention to solve their conversion dilemmas.

They have exhausted their legal avenues including the religious departments, courts, registration departments and the police.

Their last resort is to appeal for royal intervention from the Sultans of Perak, Johor and the Agong who are heads of Islamic matters in the country.

NONETheir contention is that they have the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in Article 11 of the federal constitution.

Indira is from Ipoh and Banggarma is from Tanjong Piandang, while Rani is from Malacca and Regina from Johore.

According to Perak HRP chief P Ramesh, these four are members of his party, which has collected about 5,000 signatures in support of them.

HRP will present the first memorandum of appeal to Sultan Azlan Shah at Istana Kinta in Ipoh on Sunday at 11am.

They will then approach the Johor Sultan on the case of Regina, followed by the Agong for Rani as Malacca does not have a sultan.

Given away

According to HRP national information officer and Hindraf information chief S Jayathas, Rani’s parents, due to financial difficulties, had given her away to their Hindu neighbour by the name of Kandasamy.

NONEHer Muslim mother Aminnah Ahmadu had married her converted father Abdul Kadir @ Krishnan.

When Rani (right) was 16, she married her Hindu husband who was later forced to convert to Islam as Mustapha @ M Muniandy and they have four children – two daughters and two sons.

Their eldest daughter, 27, is named as Aishah bt Mustapha Muniandy in her birth certificate but the parents managed to change her name to Vijaya Letchumy A/P M Muniandy in her identity card.

However, the other three children, Abdul, 26, Hamzah, 24, and Citra Devi, 16, still carry their Muslim names in their identity cards.

According to Jayathas, Rani had made declarations before a commissioner of oaths that she wanted Abdul to be known by his Hindu name as Ganesan and Hamzah as Nagendran, but the registration department has allegedly refused to make the changes.

Application turned down 

As for Banggama’s conversion case, on Aug 4 the Penang High Court had turned down her application for a court order that would nullify her conversion to Islam when she was seven.

Judicial Commissioner Yaacob Sam had found that Banggama is a Muslim since her parents had converted to Islam in 1983 together with their children and said the civil court has no jurisdiction to hear a case involving conversion to Islam.

NONEBanggama is living in Tanjong Piandang with her fisherman husband, S Sockalingam and their two children Kanagaraj, eight, and Hisyanthini, two.

Banggama’s contention is that she has always been a Hindu and will die one even after the High Court ruled against her.

Banggarma claimed that she was unwittingly converted by the state Islamic religious authorities at the age of seven while she was staying in a welfare home in Kepala Batas, Penang.

Banggarma’s birth certificate revealed that she was born a Hindu on Aug 13, 1982, in Keratong, Pahang, to plantation workers B Subramaniam and Latchumy Ramadu.

She has practised Hinduism even though her identity card stipulated she is a Muslim.

Meanwhile Regina’s father Mohd Zaini @ Krishnan, who had earlier married a Malay woman, had taken her Hindu mother as a second wife and they have three children – two daughters and a son.

The elder daughter was able to convert to Hinduism but not Regina and her younger brother who are still classified as Muslims.

The father died when Regina was four years old and her mother died about five years ago.

Regina had married a Hindu and her problem started when her son Thinas was born and she was unable to register his birth with the registration department.

As for Indira, she had obtained an Ipoh High Court order on March 11, for the custody of her third child Prasana Diksa but is unable to enforce the ruling on her converted husband Mohd Riduan Abdullah @ K Pathmanathan who is hiding in Kelantan with the child.

On July 31, Indira had lodged a police report against her husband for criminal intimidation over using abusive words against her during a phone conversation on July 29 and for refusing to surrender the child to her according to the court order of March 11.

Faizal Wong Abdullah regrets but…

May 18th, 2010
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Got this off Malaysiakini. I wonder what made him to be influenced in the first place. I’m not sure if the guy can opt to not undergo counseling and just re-convert. Probably have to tough it out. Counseling can take months to year.

This should be a lesson to the rest of us to think carefully before taking the plunge.  Have faith and reaffirm your knowledge in your own religion first. Don’t be tempted by promises or sweet words.

Civil servant Faizal Wong Abdullah, 54, wants to renounce Islam – which he embraced on the persuasion of friends on Oct 6, 1999 – and return to Buddhism.

In March he took the rare step of filing, on his own accord, an application with the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court to renounce Islam.

As Negri Sembilan is the only state with legislation to renounce Islam, he immediately ran into a roadblock in the legal process.

In addition, the Federal Territory (FT) Islamic Council entered a preliminary objection to his application, seeking to get him to undergo counselling instead.

This is usual procedure in Malaysia. Apostasy is a serious offence in Islam and applicants are directed to undergo counselling.

Wong had told Syariah High Court judge Mohammad Abdullah that he does not want counselling.

When the matter came up for mention today, Mohammad fixed June 2 to hear a submission from the council and told Wong to appoint a lawyer.

Wong was in tears when met outside the court, saying that on his wages he cannot afford a lawyer.

“All I want is to go back to my original religion. I respect Islam and its principles but I have never been able to practise and be a good Muslim. I cannot find peace in Islam, as I was brought up to practise Buddhism,” he said.

“Please help me go back to my faith. As I have told the judge, I do not want to undergo counselling sessions. What is the use of undergoing counselling when I have made up my mind?”

Wong explained that he had embraced Islam after being influenced by friends. He then went to Malaysia Islamic Welfare Organisation in Kuala Lumpur to complete the conversion procedure.

He insisted that the conversion has only been nominal, as he has not followed it up with practice and at heart has remained a Buddhist.

“I remain unmarried. Hence, my application to renounce Islam does not affect anybody except myself,” he said.

“Since, embracing Islam, I have been sidelined by my family. My two brothers and three sisters have shunned me. I have not been able to go back to celebrate Chinese New Year and my parents have passed away since.

“Malaysia prides itself on practising freedom of religion. I just want my right to practise Buddhism. I have been practising Buddhism all this while despite being a Muslim.”

Wong said he hopes to approach MCA for assistance and support, especially in hiring a Syarie lawyer to pursue his case up to Syariah Court of Appeal – the highest in the Islamic legal system – if this becomes necessary.

‘Lina Joy’ revisited

Wong’s predicament will bring to mind the Lina Joy case which saw a landmark decision in apostasy cases, when the Federal Court ruled that the jurisdiction for the renunciation of religion lies with the Syariah Court.

Unlike Wong, Lina took her application to the Kuala Lumpur Civil High Court, taking into account the absence of legislation in the FT Syariah jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim (right), in a majority decision, ruled that the National Registration Department (NRD), which is in charge of issuing identity cards, had the right to demand that the Syariah Court certifies Lina’s conversion.

“On the question that the NRD has the right to demand a certification from the Islamic court that confirms the appellant’s renunciation of Islam, my answer is that NRD has the right,” the judge said.

He also said that apostasy is within the powers of Islamic law and that the Syariah Court has jurisdiction, concluding that the civil courts cannot interfere in the process.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum ruled that the NRD had no statutory duty to decide on apostasy.

Penang’s Syariah Appeal Court had two years ago allowed Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to return to her old religion after it ruled her conversion, due to marriage, was not valid.

hope Shamala and her children gets justice

April 29th, 2010
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Actually, I don’t have a good feeling about this case. Something tells me Shamala will lose, even though I hope she will get justice. More discrimination I guess.

Come Monday, five judges from the highest court in Malaysia, will hear an application by a Hindu mother to challenge for the custody of her two underage sons, who became Muslim, after her husband converted them without her consent eight years ago.

The S Shamala vs Dr M Jeyaganesh case, will be heard by the Federal Court on May 3, and is bound to touch on racial and religious sentiments in multiracial Malaysia.

The case and its rulings will be a precedent to other child conversion and custody cases.

Normally, the Federal Court would have three judges hearing a particular case. However, owing to the complexity of this case as it involves constitutional matters, it had decided on a five-member bench.

Such cases have become contentious issues in Muslim-majority Malaysia as they centre on whether a parent has the right to convert their children, without the consent of the other spouse, in a civil marriage.

Other contentious issues which would be argued include whether the civil courts have the jurisdiction to hear cases concerning conversion of non-Muslim children by one parent, and whether the Syariah Court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether a conversion of a minor is valid or not.

… The Shamala case comes up almost a year after the appellate court heard her appeal and decided that the apex court had to rule on five constitutional questions.

Background to Shamala’s case

Shamala and Jeyaganesh were married in 1998 according to Hindu rites, with their marriage registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

Sometime in November 2002, Shamala’s husband converted to Islam, taking on the name Muhammad Ridzwan Mogarajah.

Subsequently he converted their two underage sons (then aged four and two respectively) to Islam without Shamala’s knowledge or consent.

She filed an application for custody of the children at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, and obtained an interim order from the court to grant custody of their children, while her husband was granted access.

However, before the interim custody order was made, Ridzwan obtained a hadanah custody order from the Syariah Court.

Shamala did not attend the Syariah Court hearing because she was a non-Muslim, and subsequently a warrant of arrest was issued against her, and also for failing to produce the children in the Islamic court.

After realising the children had converted to Islam, Shamala filed at the High Court for a declaration that the conversion of her two sons was null and void.

This is based on the Federal Constitution and the Guardianship of Infants Act granting her equal rights in determining the religion of the children.

However, in April 2004, the High Court dismissed her application stating that this was a matter for the Syariah Court.

Ridzwan meanwhile, obtained interim access from the High Court, and used his weekly visitation rights under the civil court to see the children.

At one instance, the father took the children from Shamala and refused to return them because he had obtained a Syariah Court hadanah (custody order).

Following this, Shamala filed for committal proceedings against her husband. He eventually returned the children after the High Court cited him for contempt, and held that he violated the interim custody order issued by the High Court.

In July 2004, the High Court granted Shamala ‘actual custody’ of the children, and decided that she would share ‘legal custody’ with her husband.

However, the court held she would lose custody if “there are reasonable grounds” to believe she would influence the children’s Islamic beliefs.

Five appeals filed

As a result of the case, five appeals were filed – four by the husband and one by Shamala at the Court of Appeal.

  • Ridzwan appeal’s over the High Court’s decision in dismissing his preliminary objection that the court had no jurisdiction to hear custody cases as the children had converted to Islam;
  • His appeal on holding him for contempt when he refused to abide by the civil court’s order to return the children to Shamala;
  • The husband appealing a warrant of arrest issued by the Syariah Court against his wife had been set aside by the civil court;
  • Ridzwan appeal over the High Court’s decision in giving actual custody to his wife, Shamala is cross-appealing against the decision seeking sole custody and the removal of the caveat she cannot influence her children’s faith; and
  • Shamala appealing to nullify the conversion of her children to Islam.

Following this, the Court of Appeal three-member panel headed by Justice Abdull Hamid Embong recognised the case involves important constitutional matters.

Since constitutional matters are within the realm of the apex court, it had decided to grant leave to appeal and transfer the case there. Hence, Monday’s hearing.

Questions to apex court

Five questions, which were agreed by the Court of Appeal and posed to the Federal Court to decide are:

1. Whether Section 95 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 is ultra vires (beyond the powers) of Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution (specifically concerning the right to determine the religion of the children under the age of 18 shall be determined by the parent or guardian) and Article 8 regarding equality rights?

2. Whether the same section in state law is inconsistent with federal law namely Section 5(1) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961, and is therefore invalid;

3. Regarding Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, where a custody order of children is made, which court, between the Syariah Court or the High Court is the higher authority.

4. When there is conversion of children of a civil marriage to Islam by one parent without the consent of the other, are the rights of remedy for the non-Muslim parent is vested in the High Court?;

5. Does the Syariah Court have jurisdiction to determine the validity of conversion of a minor into Islam, once it had been registered by the Registrar of Muallafs (Registrar for newly-converted Muslims).

Justice Abdull Hamid, who has now been elevated to Federal Court is unlikely to hear this appeal as he has heard it in the Appellate Court.

It is hoped the hearing and verdict would help resolve the long-standing issue which has affected many families facing a similar situation.

One of the cases likely to be affected by the outcome of the Shamala case include the M Indira Ghandi case in Ipoh.

Similar to the Shamala case, Indira’s husband converted to Islam and also converted their three children.

Indira is seeking the custody of the children and requesting the annulment of the children’s conversion.