A mother’s recent court case was turned down by the High Court in Kuching when she tried to change her teenage son’s religion from Muslim to Buddhist. The court’s decision has made the current legal discussion even more difficult to understand.
Court background: The teen’s religious beliefs are at the heart of the problem
This case is mostly about a teenager who is about to turn 18 and whose MyKad (identity card) shows a Muslim name. Even so, the mother said that her son has a Buddhist since he a child, and the father said to not have said anything against it.
Decision from the court: a rejection and legal jurisdiction
The judge in the case, Justice Zaleha Rose Pandin, said that the mother’s plea was the same as giving up her Islamic religion. She made it clear that the shariah court had the right to rule on religious issues, not the civil court.
“A close look at the facts shows that the child was born a Muslim.” The civil court does not have the power to hear claims about giving up Islam. “The shariah court is in charge of these kinds of things,” she said.
Justice Zaleha pointed out that the teenager wasn’t practising Islam, but that personal statements weren’t enough. She stressed how important it is to take the usual steps in these situations.
Mother’s Legal Initiative: Wanting to Declare and Make Changes in MyKad
The court drama began in August when the mother sent an originating order. She wanted the court to say that she had the right to choose her son’s religion and how he should be raised. When the boy turns 18, he becomes an adult, but the law says that parents can choose what religion their young children follow.
The mother, who divorced, asked the court to tell the national registration department to change her son’s MyKad to represent the faith change she wanted.
Mother’s Claims: Being a Buddhist and Not Objecting
The mother said that her son, who was born in Sabah and now lives in Sarawak, has been a Buddhist since he was a child. She said that the boy’s father did not have a problem with their son becoming a Buddhist. Furthermore, she said that the teen had never taken any Islamic lessons at school and did not want to known as a Muslim.
The people in charge of births, deaths, and adoptions at JPN, the identity card departments, Sarawak’s births and deaths clerk, and the federal government were all sued.
Lawyers Clarice Chan and Joshua Baru were the ones who helped the mother with her case.
What this means and how law and religion interact in a complicated way
The court’s ruling makes me wonder how civil and shariah judges should work together when it comes to faith and religious identity. The court case over the teen’s religious status shows how complicated and detailed these kinds of cases can be. It involves the legal rights of parents, the person’s freedom of religion, and the lines between civil and religious courts’ authority. As the case goes on, it shows how hard it is to deal with the tricky areas where law and religion meet in the court system.