Were the three children really converted? The bigots say ‘Yes’. The law says ‘No.’

By P. Ramakrishnan

Ramakrishnan asks whether single mother, Loh Siew Hong’s, children were really converted.

The single mother’s determined effort bore fruit after three years of yearning and pining for her children. Loh Siew Hong finally met her children on Feb. 14, 2022, for the first time after three years of cruel denial! At last, her long search for them ended.

But alas, she was given just one hour to meet up with her children at the police station. Why only one hour, you may ask? The rational for this was not clarified or explained. But it was the typical high-handed decision that made no sense.

Here was a mother who had not seen her children for three long years and yet there was no compassion or sympathy for the lonely mother. It was solely a religion-based decision to deny any opportunity for bonding with the Hindu mother and her three children who had been surreptitiously converted to Islam without the mother’s knowledge or consent.

This took place when her abusive and violent husband abducted the children without his wife’s knowledge when she was hospitalised and recuperating and unilaterally converted them to Islam by lying that he did not know the whereabouts of the wife.

They were converted to Islam through an evil deed and a lie perpetrated by the Hindu husband. To compound complications, the religious authorities did not bother to conduct a search to find the mother. They just did not care. They were just happy to convert the children who were in their tender years.

The twin girls were about 11 years old and the boy was seven years old, not mature enough to choose a faith and too young to renouce the religion they were born into for no apparent reason. They were just caught in a situation where the father was able to exploit them and took undue advantage of their innocence.

The religious authorities involved in the so-called conversion cannot plead ignorance that the highest court in the land had in 2018 declared and ruled that for a legitimate conversion to take place the consent of both the parents is obligatory. That is the law now and no state can pass any law requiring only the consent of a single parent to carry out their unilateral conversion. State laws must conform with federal laws; they must be subordinate to federal laws at all times.

This being the case, the unilateral conversions of these three children three years ago cannot be legal. They are null and void. They don’t have any legal effect to support these unilateral conversions. They cannot be recognised as Muslims.

If these conversions are null and void, they cannot be Muslims by any stretch of the imagination. Which would mean they are still Hindus and remain in the religion they were born into.

All those now demanding that the children must remain as Muslims either don’t know the law or wilfully chose to defy it. This is a dangerous stand to take. This will be akin to playing with fire and will have a tendency to arouse passions and anger which will destroy our collective harmony and peaceful existence. This cannot be allowed and must be nipped in the bud. The government and the police have a duty to land hard on these trouble-rousers.

The constitution and the law must always rule. No one has a right to demand for something that is wrong and clearly not supported by the constitution and the law.

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

First published in Aliran on 23 February 2022

P Ramakrishnan is the long-serving former president of Aliran who served three and a half decades on its executive committee, and has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977. Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.
Rebuilding Malaysia

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