The day Judge Hayatul denies MAIPs application to have access to unilaterally converted children

AFTER years of domestic heartbreak and endless legal tussles, it appears that common sense has finally prevailed in the case of Loh Siew Hong’s unilaterally-converted children.

It is a case that has garnered much public attention as unilateral conversions are sensitive by nature affecting constitutional rights of minors.

It was revealed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court that the unilaterally converted children of Loh do not wish to be Muslims.

Family civil court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz said this on Oct 11 in dismissing an application by the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs) to provide Islamic education to Loh’s three unilaterally converted children.

The decision was for MAIPs’ application to vary the custody order granted to Loh so that the Perlis state Islamic body could provide Islamic education to the children – twin daughters aged 15 and an 11-year-old boy.

It was reported that her former husband and Muslim convert Muhammad Nagahswaran Muniandy converted their three children in 2020 without Loh’s consent.

Family civil court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz

In her interview with the children on Sept 27, the children informed the judge that they were aware of MAIPs’ bid for supervised access to them and they expressly objected to this.

“They (children) should not be made by the legal machinery to compel them to do what they do not wish to do,” the judge said, reminding parents to nurture the growth of their children.

“After considering all facts and arguments, I find no merit in MAIPs’ application and dismiss it. No order as to costs,” Hayatul said.

Incidentally, next week on Oct 19, the appellate court is set to hear Loh’s appeal to nullify the unilateral conversion of her three children.

Having families torn apart in the name of religious one-upmanship is completely unacceptable. Far too often, children become hapless pawns in such struggles with the underlying Ketuanan Melayu themes never from far from the surface.

Non-Muslim Malaysians will be applauding the judiciary in this instance and, in particular, judge Hayatul for exercising common sense and understanding the plight of Loh and her young children.

Many will be rooting for Loh to succeed in her appeal to nullify the unilateral conversions as her family have suffered enough. It will also set clear and much needed precedence for similar cases. – Oct 12, 2023

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