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Civil court won't hear housewife's bid to quash conversion

Contributed by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 04 @ 04:48:27 CDT

The Star, Aug 04 2010

GEORGE TOWN: A housewife questioning the validity of her conversion to Islam when she was seven years old failed in her bid to have her case heard by a civil court. Justice Yaacob Md Sam dismissed Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah's originating summons with costs Wednesday, after ruling that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear her case.

"The action brought by the plaintiff is of a subject matter exclusively for the Syariah Court," he said in his decision. Siti Hasnah, 28, named as defendants Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim) chairman, Perkim officer Raimi Abdullah, the Penang Islamic Religious Council and the George Town Kadi. She had sought a declaration from the court that her conversion to Islam was invalid. She had also asked the court to instruct the National Registration Department to change her religion and her Muslim name to a Hindu one in her MyKad. Justice Yaacob said the defendants had shown sufficient do*****ents that Siti Hasnah's parents had converted to Islam in Pahang in 1983 and subsequently converted their five children. "The court agrees with the defendants that either the parents or a caretaker has the right to determine the religion of a child or children of minor age. "This is a universal right of a parent, irrespective of what the religion is," he said. He also said the issue of conversion of the plaintiff and her siblings, who were still underage at the time, by their parents, was valid under the Penang Islamic Administration Enactment. Justice Yaacob said it was only reasonable for parents who had converted to Islam to educate and bring up their children in accordance with Islamic teachings. "It is not possible that the plaintiff's parents would have brought up the plaintiff in any other way," he said. He also said the act by the parents in placing Siti Hasnah at the Ramakrishna Orphanage did not mean that they had allowed her to practise Hinduism. Justice Yaacob ruled, therefore, that Siti Hasnah has been a Muslim since her parents converted and is still a Muslim, a fact affirmed by Perkim during Siti Hasnah's conversion in 1989. Siti Hasnah, who was accompanied by her husband S. Sockalingam, 32, said she would go all the way to get a declaration that she is not a Muslim. Her counsel, Gooi Hsiao Leung, said Siti Hasnah had indicated that she wanted to appeal against the court's decision.



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