PETALING JAYA: A woman who has been allowed to remain a Buddhist although she was born to a Muslim man will take steps to rectify all her official records to accurately reflect her status following today’s Federal Court decision.
Lawyer Aston Paiva, a member of Rosliza Ibrahim’s legal team, also hoped the government would reconsider its laws and policy which affix their religion on the Malaysian identity cards.
“We hope the legislature will consider law reform on disputes affecting the legal status of Malaysians like her (Rosliza),” he said in a statement.
Earlier today, the apex court said Rosliza was an illegitimate child and that shariah law was not applicable to her. All nine judges said this was the case and that Rosliza had never left Islam.
Rosliza, 39, contends that she was born to a Buddhist mother (now deceased) and a Muslim father. As a child born out of wedlock, she is not recognised as the daughter of the Muslim man and therefore laws for Muslims in Selangor do not apply to her.
Aston said she was raised as a Buddhist by her mother, and continues to profess Buddhism and wants to continue living her life peacefully as a Buddhist in Malaysia.
However, (until today’s ruling) she is being considered a Muslim and the Selangor government does not want to exempt her from the application of laws meant for Muslims because of her biological father’s religion.
“As a result, her constitutional right to religious freedom, choice of partner and disposition of property are all adversely affected,” he said.
Meanwhile lawyer Philip Koh, who held a watching brief for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism welcomed the majority decision that Rosliza is not a person who professes the religion of Islam .
He said Tengku Maimun also affirmed that the High Court, and not the shariah court, has jurisdiction in cases involving construction of Federal Constitution and secular civil laws.
“In consequence, the Chief Justice and six other judges ruled that the orders sought by Rosliza which results in her being able to secure a change of her religious status under the national registration identity card from Islam to Buddhist succeeded,” he said in a statement.
Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim reserved their judicial opinion to the finding that Rosliza is an illegitimate child from a union of a Muslim father and a non-Muslim Mother.
“Both judges held that while the civil court has jurisdiction in non-exit cases (where one was never a Muslim at birth) the civil courts ought to seek evidence from experts like a fatwa committee before arriving at a decision,” Koh said.