Court of Appeal quashes conversion of Loh Siew Hong’s children

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With the appellate court’s decision, the children are effectively Hindus.

The Court of Appeal has quashed the conversion of three children to Islam that was done unilaterally by their father without the consent of his ex-wife, ruling that the conversion is null and void.

A three-judge panel chaired by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail unanimously ruled that the High Court judge had erred when he failed to consider two main issues raised in the judicial review by the children’s mother, Loh Siew Hong.

Firdaus Latif

Loh had filed the judicial review to challenge the conversion of her children; twin daughters aged 11 and a nine-year-old boy at that time.

“The failure to answer these two issues is a clear misdirection that is tantamount to an error in law. On the issue of unilateral conversion, we are bound by the decision in the Indira Gandhi case which held that the consent of both parents must be obtained before minor children can be converted to another religion.

“Therefore, we allow the appeal by the applicant (Loh) and set aside the High Court’s decision,” Justice Hadhariah said on Wednesday (Jan 10).

Other judges on the bench were Justices Hashim Hamzah and Azhahari Kamal Ramli.

With the appellate court’s decision, the children – now 16 and 13 – are effectively Hindus.

On May 11, last year, High Court judge Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh dismissed Loh’s judicial review application and ruled that the children were Muslims from the conversion.

In his decision, the judge said that the force of evidence in the case suggested that the children continued to profess Islam even after she gained their custody.

He also said there was no dispute that the certificates of conversion were issued for the children.

It was reported that Loh’s former husband, M Nagahswaran, who became a Muslim, had converted the children in July 2020 after separating from Loh in March 2019.

They divorced in 2021. – The Star