PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal will, on June 22, fix a hearing date for single mother Loh Siew Hong’s appeal to reverse a High Court ruling that her children are still Muslims despite being unilaterally converted into the faith by their father.
Loh’s lawyer A Srimurugan said he had asked for an early case management date in anticipation of getting the appeal records, which include the grounds of judgment of Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh.
“Hopefully, we will be able to secure an appeal hearing date at the next case management date on June 22,” he told FMT after the first case management before Court of Appeal deputy registrar Mariam Hasanah Othman.
Lawyer Danial Farhan Zainul Rijal represented the religious and Malay customs council of Perlis while Ainul Wardah Shahidan appeared for state mufti Asri Zainul Abidin, the state government and registrar of converts, the respondents in the appeal.
Srimurugan said he had also written to Wan Farid’s secretary for the full written grounds to be made available.
This is to enable the filing of a memorandum of appeal, which will identify where, in the view of the appellant, the judge had erred in his decision.
FMT understands Loh’s solicitors have written to Court of Appeal president Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim to give priority to this appeal.
Loh filed a notice of appeal after Wan Farid dismissed her judicial review application on May 11, saying there was no evidence the three children had stopped professing Islam even after she had gained custody of them.
Wan Farid said he found that there was no dispute that certificates of conversion were issued to the children.
He said the certificates were issued after the Perlis state registrar of converts was satisfied that the legal requirements of Section 107(1) of the Perlis 2006 Enactment had been adhered to and that the children had professed the Syahadah proclamation willingly.
On March 25 last year, Loh filed the suit seeking a declaration that a provision in the state enactment that allows a parent to unilaterally convert minor children was unconstitutional.
She also wanted a declaration that her twin daughters, aged 14, and son, aged 11, were still Hindus.
Loh said her children were legally incapable of embracing Islam without her consent as they were minors.
Loh also wanted a certiorari order to quash the registration of the conversion into the Islamic faith by the registrar on July 7, 2020.
On Feb 21 last year, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed a habeas corpus application filed by Loh after she had failed to regain custody of her three children from preacher Nazirah Nanthakumari Abdullah.
This followed a civil court order giving her custody, care and control of her three children.
Loh claimed she later came to know that her children had been placed under Nazirah’s care and alleged that Nazirah refused to let her meet them.
Loh, a Buddhist, contends that her former husband, M Nagahswaran, did not have the legal capacity to allow the registrar of converts to register their children as converts without her consent.