“Think of the consequences”, PAS leader tells Loh on challenging children’s unilateral conversion

WITH single mother Loh Siew Hong now approaching the court to nullify her children’s unilateral conversion, a Selangor PAS leader voiced his frustration over it.

“Why should she take extreme steps which will create animosity? Loh could have taken peaceful resolutions on it which would have been supported by Muslims and our royalty.

“But she had decided to nullify her children’s conversion to Islam without thinking of its consequences.

“Don’t anger the Muslims just because of marital problems. Does those advising Loh want a repeat of the Natrah tragedy which happened in the 1950?” PAS Selangor secretary Roslan Shahir Mohd Shahi was reported asking in Harakah Daily yesterday.

On Feb 21, the Kuala Lumpur High Court granted Loh’s habeas corpus application and ordered the Perlis Social Welfare Department to surrender her three children to her.

It is to note that her ex-husband M Nagahswaran, who is currently imprisoned on drug-related charges, had unilaterally converted the children to Islam without Loh’s knowledge and consent.

While things seem to have simmered down for a while, the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Etiquette Council (Maips) decided to intervene in the divorce proceedings on March 8, stating it was seeking locus standi (legal standing) so it could apply to vary Loh’s custody order over her children.

The religious council said it was doing so to provide Islamic education to the children while being under their non-Muslim mother’s care, which would include guidance on Islamic teachings, not limited to the principles of halal and haram food, as well as financial support via zakat and other aid channelled to the children through Loh.

Responding to Maips application, Loh approached the court to quash her kids’ unilateral conversion to Islam by filing a judicial review on March 25 at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

She had also named the Perlis Registrar of Muallafs, Maips state mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and the state government as respondents.

The Natrah Tragedy refers to case where a girl named Maria Bertha Hertogh (born March 24, 1937) was supposedly given away to a Malay family temporarily for care as her Dutch biological family could not bring her back to Holland following the Japanese invasion.

Her Malay family subsequently raised her as Muslim but after the end of World War II, her biological family came back to retrieve her, triggering a court battle.

When the courts ruled in favour of the Hertoghs, riots followed suit in several parts of Malaya and Singapore, leaving nine dead and nearly 200 injured.

On that note, Roslan claimed that no Muslim would be able to accept a conversion case being challenged in courts as it was sensitive and could create tension among the populace.

“Why should Loh do this? Who are advising her? Bear in mind that her children have been educated on Islam while she had a feud with her husband.

“Her daughters even covered themselves up and could recite parts of the al-Quran while her son won a muazzin contest before.

“Why meddle in their faith when the mother had already won custody over the innocent children?” he queried.

Lodge report against Roslan

On related matter, lawyer-activist Siti Kasim urged Loh to lodge a police report against Roslan and Harakah Daily for incitement under Penal Code for criminal intimidation.

“This guy is inciting the public and threatening Loh. This type of people are a danger to our society and Islam itself when clearly, he is showing an extreme interpretation of Islam,” she told FocusM.

As a mother and the legal guardian to her children, Siti said Loh has every legal right to seek redress in court on her children’s unilateral conversion, especially when the law is clear on the matter.

“I hope the authorities, and especially our Sultans, will keep in check these overzealous people who don’t respect the law and only see things from their tunnel vision on what Islam is all about,” she remarked. – March 28, 2022

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