GEORGE TOWN: Loh Siew Hong will challenge the unilateral conversion of her three children through a judicial review, her lawyer said today.
Lawyer Shamsher Singh Thind said while there were calls for the children’s Islamic faith to be retained, the fact remained that they were converted without the consent of their mother, who had full custody over them.
“The Federal Constitution states that the faith of the child will be determined by both parents of the children, not by the wishes of the children or other third parties,” he told FMT.
He said there would be further problems if their conversions were not quashed, especially with the national registration department (JPN), when they reached adulthood and if the children decided to marry a non-Muslim when they grew up.
Shamsher said there had been no reply to a letter of demand sent on Wednesday to the registrars of converts (pendaftar muallaf) in three states asking for the status of the children’s conversion. He said they were given a week to reply.
Shamsher said the letter was addressed to the three registrars because the children were under the care of a woman in Penang before the children were later informed by police to be in Perlis.
He said as an added measure, the Kedah registrar of converts was also included as the ex-husband had lived in Sungai Petani.
“Yes, I have heard the Perlis mufti say the children were converted in his state. But I want something in writing. Until then, it remains as hearsay.”
Shamsher said if the state registrars replied that the children were not on their converts’ register, the judicial review would be dropped.
“Otherwise, we will file a review, with or without the letter. We will ask for a court order to compel the registrars to furnish us the conversion certificate.”
Shamsher also explained why Loh was advised to take the habeas corpus route to recover Loh’s children at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.
He said the habeas corpus application not only allowed for the court to look into unlawful detention by enforcement agencies, but also private persons, especially when their liberties were at stake.
“This is not a custody battle. Three children have been taken away and police were almost not cooperating when the High Court ordered them to recover the children and deliver them to their mother (who has custody).
“Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the habeas corpus will allow for the children to be produced in court, and my client will be handed her children.”
Shamsher said while there were claims that the children did not want to live with their mother, he said that did not matter.
“If your child wants to live in your neighbour’s house, and your neighbour says, ‘your kids don’t like you’, does that mean the kids now belong to the neighbours?
“The children are not old enough under the law to say where they want to live,” he said.
Last year, Loh obtained a divorce from her husband and was granted full custody of her three children.
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