Thursday, March 31, 2016

Malaysiakini news : Amendments to social security bill rile opposition MPs








The opposition lawmakers are opposed to the amendments to Employee's Social Security Bill 2015 which would allow the Social Security Organisation (Socso) to set up and take over companies.

They also disagreed with the bill that seeks to remove Bank Negara's representative from Socso's investment panel.

M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) pointed out that allowing the organisation to conduct investment would be risky as it should act as a safety net for the employees.

"What safety net can you provide to the trustees? Why Bank Negara's representative no longer sits in the panel? What is the motive behind this?

"This is contradictory to what the employees had wanted. Something is not right here.

"If (the government) want to showcase its transparency, it needs Bank Negara's delegate and other experts inside the panel.

"We need to include the representatives from the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and other employees association," he said.

Hatta Ramli (Amanah- Kuala Krai) and Michael Jeyakumar (PSM-Sungai Siput) also raised similar concerns.

The Human Resources Ministry has tabled the bill, which seeks to allow Socso, with the approval of its minister and finance minister, invest fund, and able to play a bigger role in the future by setting up or take over companies under the Companies Act.

With that, Socso can carry out, administer, conduct and manage any project, joint venture, privatisation programme, scheme, enterprise or any other matter which has been planned or undertaken by Socso.

The ministry also wants to allow Socso to grant other financing facilities to officers and employees of Socso. Currently, the organisation can only grant loans.

Kula said it does not make sense.

"You are a social organisation. The primary objective is for the workers, fight for the workers and not fight against the workers.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Malaysiakini news :- Kula: Medical grad glut ominous








The oversupply of medical graduates has arrived at a level that demands urgent attention to avert shoddy internships and the flight of human capital abroad, said DAP national vice-chair M Kulasegaran.

“The alarms were sounded six years ago that an oversupply of doctors loomed but apathy and inaction meant the phenomenon grew unchecked,” said the MP for Ipoh Barat in remarks urging urgent remedial action.

Kulasegaran said an astonishing 5,000 medical graduates emerge each year from the country’s 24 medical colleges and from 375 recognised colleges overseas.

“This is an amazing number for a country of just under thirty million people,” observed the lawyer-legislator.

“I feel it reflects the desire of Malaysian students to secure a professional qualification that they think will provide some insulation from the unmeritocratic pressures all professions are exposed to in our society, more so in the public than private sector,” he opined.

Kulasegaran said the consequent glut from the rush for medical degrees has resulted in a paucity of places for internships in hospitals, leading to a situation where there are more interns than there are places and cases for learning.

“This has meant that interns obtain less time to learn under trainers, registrars, clinical specialists and consultants,” he said.

Furthermore, fresh graduates are made to wait six to eight months for a place to do their internship, which he said was too long a wait.

“Not suprisingly, last year alone fifty to sixty medical grads of Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia were offered places in Singapore to do their interships,” he noted.

He said a government-instituted moratorium on medical courses in public universities has done little to stem the supply of graduates because of the large number of private medical colleges.

“The oversupply has to be tackled in deeper and more telling ways as otherwise we are faced with a glut of doctors which give the expense and time taken to produce them, represent a sheer waste of resoruces,” said Kulasegaran.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

BN leaders are behaving like brave lions on bungalow purchase issue but timid rabbitson 1 MDB scandals




Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 229th March, 2016

BN leaders are behaving like brave lions on bungalow purchase issue but timid rabbitson 1 MDB scandals

Since Umno Tasek Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahaya had raised issues on Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s bungalow purchase in Parliament, Umno, Gerakan and MCA leaders have been pursuing the issue relentlessly.


This is despite the fact that Guan Eng has explained the issues well and the seller Ms Phang Li Koon has also by way of statutory declaration made the necessary explanations.

There have been attempts by cybertroopers to confuse the public that Guan Eng’s case is similar to Khir Toyo’s case but the truth is that both cases are not the same.

Guan Eng has explained that the purchase was a sub sale and not from a private developer. He has also clarified that the Taman Manggis land was sold to Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd (KLIDC) via open tender and that Ms Phang has no interest in KLIDC.

Yet Umno, Gerakan and Mca leaders have chosen to ignore the explanations and have been harping on the land sale and bungalow purchase as if Guan Eng ahs something to hide.

I find that it is comical for Umno, Gerakan and MCA leaders to behave like brave lionson the bungalow purchase issue, yet like timid rabbits on the 1 MDB scandals.

Their behaviors only show their double standards when it comes to issue of integrity. It is not hard to see that their real motive is to divert public attention from the 1 MDB scandals.

But I dare say that their attempt to smear Guan Eng and DAP as well as to divert public attention will fail. I hope they will all be ready to apologise publicly when investigations prove that Guan Eng has done no wrong as alleged.

DAP leaders have full confidence and trust in Guan Eng and the Penang government. We will give full support to Guan Eng as he faces the fierce but baseless attacks from BN leaders and cyber troopers.

I wish to thank DAP supporters who have been helping the party to spread our explanations and counter attacks in the social media. I call on more supporters to help us to counter the enemies’ lies and falsehoods and to keep the Save Malaysia campaignmomentum going.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Call on the Health Minister Datuk Subramanian to take effective and immediate steps to address the issues of oversupply of doctors


Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 28th March, 2016

Call on the Health Minister Datuk Subramanian to take effective and immediate steps to address the issues of oversupply of doctors


The issues of oversupply of doctors, the limited places for houseman-ship, the quality of compulsory houseman-ship training have been raised a few years ago by several parties, including the Opposition and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

In 2010, then MCA president and former Health Minister Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek had also said that there will be an oversupply of doctors in 5 to 6 years time.
The cause of the oversupply is obvious and has been stated by the MAA in 2013. In November 2013, MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan had commented that “ Malaysia has roughly 40 private medical colleges and 375 recognised colleges overseas, and each year about 5,000 medical students graduate — “…the highest number in Malaysian history”.

So the nation is having the oversupply due to the high number of local and foreign graduates being produced each year.
One of the measures already taken by the government was the moratorium on medical courses but this is an insufficient measure as the main cause is the existing number of medical schools.

In 2010, then Penang Gerakan chief Datuk Teng Hock Nam had revealed that Britain which had a population of 61 million had 26medical colleges, and Canada with a population of 34million had 17 medical colleges.

But Malaysia which has a population of 27 million has 24 medical colleges.

I had raised this problem of too many medical colleges in 2010 and in response, then MAA president Dr David Quek had expressed concern that the hundreds of house officers (or housemen) who throng major urban hospitals share the same patients and duties.

Dr David was quoted to say: “What is worse, they have lesser personal time with their trainers, registrars, clinical specialists and consultants.”

The issues raised should have been given the utmost and urgent attention with effective short, medium and long term measures being drawn up/implemented. Yet till today, the government does not seem to have come up with effective solutions.

As a result of the oversupply, new medical graduates now have to wait for six to eight months before being offered housemanship training.
In the Star today, it was reported that Dr Tan Guo Jeng of Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahmah (Klang) said that a six to eight months wait for housemanship was too long and those who did not want to wait had taken up offers from Singapore.

He said Singapore identified the students and gave them provisional offers even before they graduate and last year alone, Malaysia lost 50 to 60 of its Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebanagsaan Malaysia graduates to Singapore.

So there is now the additional problem of brain drain. With the oversupply issue not effectively resolved, the day will come when the nation’s doctors will be jobless.

I call on the Health Minister Datuk Subramanian to take effective and immediate steps to address the issues of oversupply of doctors.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Malaysiakini : Dr M drags Najib to court, seeks RM2.6b in damages





Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others have filed a legal suit against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for breach of fiduciary duty and misfeasance in public office.


The suit was filed in the High Court registry in Kuala Lumpur today by the the law firm of Haniff Khatri.

Besides Mahathir, the other plaintiffs are former Langkawi Wanita Umno member Anina Saadudin and former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chairperson Khairuddin Abu Hassan.

Najib is named as the sole defendant in the claim.

All three plaintiffs are part of the Citizens' Declaration movement to remove Najib as prime minister.

In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs said due to Najib's position as the “numero uno” of Malaysia, he controls, commands and instructs or insists omissions within the powers of each and every government machinery that includes ministries, ministers, parliamentary office (including Public Accounts Committee) and legal enforcement agencies such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

They further claimed that Najib acted in bad faith to undermine, or cause to compromise various respective institutions involved in the probe of 1MDB scandals related to the remittance of RM2.6 billion and RM42 million or any other amount into the PM's personal bank accounts.

This is to ensure that the necessary findings and investigations on the allegations against misconduct and impropriety could not be properly, transparently and independently concluded.

They claimed that 1MDB was set-up in 2009 but between 2010 and 2013, there were various reports on allegations of serious financial impropriety concerning 1MDB, and sometime between 2014 and last year, the allegations became more serious where in several newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, it was reported or alleged that 1MDB had been used to siphon funds into Najib's accounts.

The plaintiffs said the PAC looked into 1MDB and a special task force was also formed where it took the action of freezing six bank accounts on July 7, last year, and raided the 1MDB office the next day.

Muhyiddin Yassin, the then deputy prime minister, spoke at the Cheras Umno division meeting that he could no longer keep quiet and must speak the truth, they added.

Interference in investigations

Mahathir, Anina and Khairuddin further said there was an interference in the investigation process which saw the removal of Muhyiddin and Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal from Najib's cabinet for being vocal on 1MDB, and also the removal of then attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail.

They claimed four members of the PAC were removed and two of them appointed as deputy ministers, while the police special branch director, Akhil Bulat, was replaced three weeks before his retirement.

The statement of claim also listed further interference to the ongoing investigations that saw two senior officers from the MACC transferred to the Prime Minister's Department, and a prosecuting officer from the MACC being picked up.

The Housing, Local Government and Urban Well-being Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan was quoted as saying to the press that there was an attempt to criminalise Najib and drastic action was needed to take these people out first.



Mahathir, Khairuddin and Anina (photo) said categorising the funds as donations has created a lot of questions which has led to contradictory explanations on the origin and purpose of the donations.

They quoted statements by Umno cabinet ministers such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Azalina Othman Said and Nazri Abdul Aziz as examples.

All three went on to cite the action by newly appointed attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali to close the case against Najib after the MACC submitted its investigation papers to the AG Chambers in January.

The chronology of the facts above, they said leads to the irresistible and undeniable conclusion of the manner in which Najib has continuously interfered with the due process of the law in order to ensure that all the lawful machineries could not continue to carry out and conclude the necessary investigations pertaining to his alleged impropriety and/or misconduct.

Also cited were the actions taken against The Edge Financial Daily and news portal The Malaysian Insider as examples of Najib abusing his position.

They are seeking a court order to declare Najib as having committed the tort of misfeasance in public office and breach of fiduciary duties by using his post as prime minister, chairperson of BN and Umno president to act in bad faith, to obstruct, intercede, impede and derail investigations and inquiries related to 1MDB.

Misfeasance is a term used in tort law to describe an act that is legal but performed improperly.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a similar declaration where Najib abused his positions to take action against Anina and Khairuddin.

Furthermore, they are seeking RM2.6 billion in exemplary damages and aggravated damages of RM42 million.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Malaysiakini news: Kula: PAS-Ikatan pact ‘smoke and mirrors’ game




PAS’ penchant for self-delusion is unlimited. judging from its tie-up with Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan), said DAP national vice-chair M Kulasegaran.

“After tickling the public’s curiosity by saying it is linking up with a multiracial opposition party, PAS announces that Ikatan is its new partner in opening up a third force in Malaysian politics,” said the MP for Ipoh Barat.

“How is a pact between an Islamist party and one devoted to the vision and ideals of Malaysia’s founding prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman going to amount to a third force in our politics?” asked Kulasegaran.

He said PAS under president Abdul Hadi Awang has been playing misty on all the major issues besetting the country.

“Whether it is hudud, on which they were adamant some time ago and now have cooled towards it, or on the RM2.6 billion in the prime minister’s accounts, on which they do not think something grave has taken place, or on the Citizens’ Declaration, to which they are indifferent, PAS is all smoke and mirrors,” said the lawyer-legislator.

“Now PAS wants the public to believe that by linking up with a party promoting the vision of Tunku Abdul Rahman who was insistent that Malaysia cannot be an Islamic state, the party is deepening the mystery of where it actually stands on the burning issues of the day.

“Either its capacity for self-delusion is unlimited or it thinks that the public can be gulled by whatever it puts out about where the party stands at any one time on any issue,” said Kulasegaran.

He noted this situation was in stark contrast to the time when the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat was the spiritual leader of the Islamist party.

“Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, you could not be in any doubt as to where he stood and the party’s allies or adversaries took their agreement or their dissent from where he drew the PAS position on an issue,” said Kulasegaran.

The DAP leader said these days the PAS stand on an issue was a guessing game, “a game of smoke and mirrors such that one is led to think that politics is a sport for magicians and shamans”.

“I think the party is headed for a rude awakening at the next general election,” added Kulasegaran.




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Save Malaysia Citizens Declaration



On the 4th of March 2016 the Save Malaysia Campaign was officially launched under the leadership of former PM Tun Matahir.


Today at the DAP HQ YB Lim Kit Siang gathered a group of well known NGO’s leaders, concerned Citizens and MP’s to sign and launch the Citizens Declaration and to Save Malaysia campaign.




Among the MPs were MP YB Tan Kok Wai, YB Teo Kok Seong,YB Zairil Khir Johari, YB Tony Pua Kiam Wee,  ADUN Arul Kumar Jambunathan from Nilai, prominent lawyer Tommy Thomas, NGO activists Arumugam, National laureate Pak Samad, Prof. Bahari etc


I said-- In any advanced democracy, a Prime Minister who is responsible for such mega scandal ( 1 mdb) would have voluntarily resigned. The least Dato Najib should have done is to take leave from his Prime ministership while being investigated. Yet what we have witnessed is the nation lurching towards prime ministerial dictatorship.



Enough is enough. It is time that Malaysians should unite to Save Malaysia by ousting the PM and pressing for democratic and institutional reforms.


Further a great new hope for a better Malaysia has taken shape. We should all join in the movement to keep the momentum to achieve the object of ousting Najib and his cronies. The future and our countries destiny is in our hands.



Let's give hope and direction to the young n old to liver in a harmonious New Malaysia. This is the best of opportunities and chance we have .let's look and move forward

Cuepacs tells civil servants not to join anti-Najib rally



JOHOR BARU: The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service (Cuepacs) has reminded its members not to get involved in a gathering calling for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down, slated for later this month.

Its president Datuk Azih Muda said as civil servants, their responsibility is to support the government and to serve it well so that the government will continue to provide prosperity and development to the people.

 "It is better for them to concentrate on their service for the government, and not to get involved in politics," said Azih.

 He said the union is powerless to stop any civil servants from attending the gathering. "However, if they are caught, and disciplinary action are taken against them, do not come to us for help because there is nothing that we can do," said Azih.

No more RM2.6b questions in Parliament due to Malaysian Bar court case

By Nuradzimmah Daim



KUALA LUMPUR: Questions on the RM2.6 billion donation from the Saudi royal family to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak can no longer be posed in Parliament.

This is due to the ongoing court case between the Malaysian Bar, which had filed for a judicial review against Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali seeking his removal.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, in announcing this today, said issues concerning the donation can no longer be debated in the House as it was sub judice.

“The government is committed to answering on any issue involving its accountability including the RM2.6 billion and SRC International.

“However, given the latest development, it can no longer answer the question in the parliament as it is subjected to Standing Order 23(1)(g) which states that any drafted question cannot be directed to any matter heard in court and any issue that is sub judice cannot be asked," she said.

 The Malaysian Bar had on Monday filed a judicial review at the High Court seeking for the removal of Apandi.

 Apandi had in January announced that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was cleared of financial wrongdoing in relation to the RM2.6 billion donation deposited by the Saudi royal family into his account.

No problem with BN leaders joining Dr M movement, says backbenchers’ chief


BY KAMLES KUMAR

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — Barisan Nasional (BN) will not be affected by its former leaders working with opposition parties as part of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s offensive against Putrajaya, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad said today.

The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) chief said history has shown that the coalition has survived senior leaders leaving, and that it was the nature of politics that personalities come and go

Shahrir said instead that it was those who backed Dr Mahathir’s Citizens’ Declaration that would be damaged, noting that the movement was already creating discord among opposition parties supporting it.

“Even DAP members are questioning on why is DAP is aligning itself with Tun Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir together with other Barisan Nasional veterans, opposition leaders and human rights activists, recently banded together in a “Save Malaysia” movement by signing a Citizens’ Declaration that called for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s removal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Citizens move only way to oust Najib as PM, says Kula



FMT Reporters
March 15, 2016

DAP MP Kulasegaran urges people to support the Save Malaysia campaign to prevent the nation from becoming a dictatorship.

PETALING JAYA : DAP MP M Kulasegaran today called on all Malaysians, regardless of their political leanings, to support the Citizens’ Declaration and the ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign to prevent Malaysia from lurching towards a dictatorship.

Parroting his party leadership’s stance, Kula claimed the nation would continue to suffer if Najib continued to lead Malaysia.

“The longer Najib stays on as prime minister, the more damage will be done to Malaysia,” said the Ipoh Barat MP.

He acknowledged that many Malaysians had been critical of the Pakatan Harapan for teaming up with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the campaign to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak.


Kula urged Malaysians to look at the bigger picture and be concerned about the nation marching towards a dictatorship.

He said the joining of forces by Mahathir and others to oust Najib was a necessary strategy as there was no way Najib would resign on his own, or be forced out by Umno.

Since the launching of the Citizens’ Declaration on March 4, the Mahathir-led anti-Najib force had come under fire from various quarters, including Pakatan supporters and civil society groups.

Kula said coming together to Save Malaysia did not mean they had forgotten their differences with Mahathir or his “past misdeeds.”

“The Citizens’ Declaration deserves the support of Malaysians who believe that Najib should not lead Malaysia any longer,” said Kula.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Suppport the Citizens Declaration and Save Malaysia campaign to prevent Malaysia lurching towards a Prime Ministerial dictatorship



Media Statement by M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 14th March 2016

Suppport the Citizens Declaration and Save Malaysia campaign to prevent Malaysia lurching towards a Prime Ministerial dictatorship

Since the launching of the Citizens Declaration on March 4, there have been some criticisms against some of the signatories who are from the Opposition and civil society.

These signatories from the Opposition and civil society, despite their having fought courageously and selflessly for a better Malaysia, have been accused of compromising their principles and even called hypocrites.

The main criticism stems from the fact that the Declaration and save Malaysia campaign were initiated by the former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir who has long and often been criticized for his past wrongs.

Some opposition supporters have viewed working with Tun Mahathir as unbelievable and unacceptable, some have viewed the working together with him is as good as forgiving or forgetting his past mistakes and wrongs.

There are others who have said that the campaign will be a futile exercise and that the Save Malaysia campaign is sure to fail.

While it is understandable for some opposition supporters to find it difficult to accept the new political realignment that brings together former political rivals, nevertheless it is unfair to question the integrity of these great fighters who have been consistent in their fight for a better Malaysia.

The main question that critics should first ask and ponder is whether the objectives which include the ousting the Prime Minister Datuk Najib are right and necessary.

I view the joining of forces by Mahathir and others to oust Datuk Najib as a necessary strategy after it has become so clear that there is no way that Najib will resign either on his own or forced by Umno.

The nation has been bogged down and will continue to suffer if Najib continues to lead Malaysia. Malaysians should be concerned about the nation lurching towards a Prime Minister’s dictatorship.

The longer Najib stays on as Prime Minister, the more damage will be done to Malaysia.

Mahathir and the opposition have tried hard to get Najib to account for the 1MDB scandals but to no avail. Mahathir has also failed to oust Najib.

The coming together to save Malaysia does not mean forgetting all the differences with and misdeeds of Tun Mahathir, but rather it entails the willingness to work together despite the past differences and his past misdeeds.

Will the campaign succeed in ousting Najib? This is a question that no one will know the answer. But the lack of a definite answer cannot be the reason for not attempting to do what is necessary to save Malaysia.

The Citizens Declaration therefore deserves the support of Malaysians who believe that Najib should not lead Malaysia any longer and who want to prevent the nation lurching towards a Prime Ministerial dictatorship.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dramatic change at Felda Global Ventures


PETALING JAYA: In a surprising turn of events, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) is set to announce the departure of chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah after a three-year stint at the palm oil firm.

The decision was reached after a tumultuous 24-hour period.

A source said that FGV made the decision to replace Emir during a board meeting on Wednesday. He had earlier been recalled from the Palm and Lauric Oils Conference and Exhibition 2016 to attend a one-on-one meeting with FGV’s chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad at the company’s premises on that day.


“Emir’s top lieutenants learned about the news on Thursday morning. It came as a complete surprise to the staff,” the source said.


He is set to be replaced by Datuk Zakaria Arshad, who is the head of the downstream cluster for FGV.

As at press time, an FGV representative told StarBiz that the company was in no position to make any comments. However, an official announcement would be made accordingly if there were any developments, he said.

It has been said that Emir arrived at FGV at an inopportune time. Since being appointed as CEO in January 2013, his tenure at the company has coincided with a major decline in palm oil prices, as stockpiles built up amid a backdrop of excess supply, which ultimately impacted its bottom line.

At the same time, FGV’s stock price has also taken a beating due to the downturn in the palm oil industry, as well as the global stock market decline over the past year.

On the other hand, the company has been no stranger to intense public scrutiny after a series of acquisitions over the past few years. This may be partly because the company’s financial performance has deteriorated during this period despite billions of ringgit being spent on new acquisitions.

The company reported a net profit of RM117.12mil for its latest financial year ended Dec 31, 2015 (FY15), a substantial drop from RM325.49mil the year before.

The most high-profile deal to date is the planned stake acquisition in Indonesia’s PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk, which is still ongoing. An initial deal worth US$680mil (RM2.8bil) last year to acquire a 37% stake in Eagle High was scrapped due to a change in market conditions.

However, Emir has long defended the deals, citing the need for FGV to replenish its land bank and grow its revenue base. In an interview with StarBiz last month, he said the company was looking to acquire an additional 40,000 ha of land this year.

He also confirmed that FGV would continue to pursue growth opportunities via new acquisitions in both the upstream and downstream segments.

Another ongoing deal is the proposed purchase of China edible oils firm Zhong Ling Nutril-Oil Holdings Ltd for RM976.25mil which was announced on Feb 26.

Aside from this deal, Zakaria’s impending appointment may also be reflective of FGV’s ambitions to grow its revenue base in the downstream segment.

This is because the downstream asset earnings will provide a hedge against the fluctuations in palm oil prices, which tend to determine overall upstream earnings.

It is not known whether Zakaria intends to retain FGV’s comprehensive five-year transformation programme which had been spearheaded by Emir.

Recently, Emir had been in the midst of executing a major transformation programme within FGV, which involved major cost-cutting initiatives, as well as the renegotiation of thousands of contracts with vendors and suppliers.

It is worth noting that the cost-cutting efforts did not come at the expense of its 48,000-strong workforce. In a recent town hall meeting, Emir personally assured FGV staff that the company was not planning retrenchments.

According to internal figures, the company is planning to aggressively grow its revenue base to more than RM50bil per year by 2020. In comparison, FGV’s revenue amounted to RM15.7bil in FY15.

Zakaria was appointed as the head of the downstream cluster on Jan 1, 2014. He holds a degree in economics from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

He was appointed as CEO of Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd before he assumed his position as head of the downstream cluster of FGV. He is also a director of several companies within the FGV group.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

'Fate of unilateral conversion reforms worrying as no firm date'




Putrajaya may have announced that planned law reforms to address the unilateral conversion of minors is ready but without a firm date on when it will be tabled in Parliament, there is much cause for concern, said Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran.


He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri who said the draft legislation is awaiting feedback from the minister in charge of Islamic affairs and vowed to see it pushed through.


Despite the assurance, Kulasegaran, who handles unilateral conversion cases, described the response without a firm date as "disappointing" and a "big cause of worry".


Kulasegaran highlighted similar proposals and assurances since 2009 which have yielded no results.


"Since the cabinet made the decision to ban the unilateral conversion of minors in 2009, more than one committee was set up to study the necessary law changes required to put into real effect the cabinet’s decision.


"Despite the high profile Indira Gandhi and S Deepa cases, the trauma and pain that they have had to go through and the extreme injustice that they have had to suffer, the government has shown its lack of political will in putting into real effect the 2009 cabinet decision.


"It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that such an issue which is like a time bomb that can affect religious harmony, is not resolved with the urgency that it deserves," he said.


Several conversion tussles have come about after a spouse who had converted to Islam, gains custody of the children through the syariah courts.


Meanwhile, the other spouse who is still a non-Muslim, obtains custody of the children through the civil courts, leaving the two legal systems in conflict.


In contrast to Putrajaya's long delay in resolving this issue, Kulasegaran pointed out that Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan had last year taken his own initiative to address the matter.


The Negeri Sembilan government requires any couple in a civil union to first dissolve their marriage and resolve custodial issues through civil law, if they cannot agree on converting to Islam.


"The government must not delay any more and must give a firm date as to when the necessary law reforms will be presented to Parliament," said Kulasegaran.

Continued delay on legislative changes to ban unilateral conversion of minors is cause for worry

Media Statement by M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Kuala Lumpur on 10th March 2016
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Continued delay on legislative changes to ban unilateral conversion of minors is cause for worry
Yesterday, while answering a parliament question on law reforms to ban unilateral conversion of minors posed by DAP MP for Batu Kawan, Kasturi Patto , the de facto law minister Nancy Sukri said the government's draft for law reforms is already “ready”, but said the minister in charge of Islamic affairs is still collecting feedback on the proposed legal changes.

Nancy Shukri also expressed her personal commitment to carry out law reforms, saying she does not want her religion misused by individuals for their own ends.
However, her answer is most disappointing and is in fact a big cause of worry. Her answer may just mean that there will be further delay with probably no solution and concrete action like what has happened over the last 7 years.

Since the Cabinet made the decision to ban the unilateral conversion of minors in 2009, more than one committee was set up to study the necessary law changes required to put into real effect the Cabinet’s decision.

But till today, despite the high profile cases of the Indira Gandhi and Deepa and the trauma, pain that they have had to go through and the extreme justice that they have had to suffer, the government has shown its lack of political will in putting real effect the 2009 Cabinet decision.

It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that such an issue which is like a time bomb that can affect religious harmony is not resolved with the urgency that it deserves.
Last February, Negeri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamad Hassanhas said that the state would implement the” divorce first, then convert” ruling so as to prevent legal tussled and to protect sanctity of Islam.

But the heartless Federal government did not respond to or follow the Negeri Sembilan’s move.

The government must not delay any more and must give a firm date as to when the necessary law reforms will be presented to Parliament.

Activist acquitted over Sri Lanka killing fields screening



Activist Lena Hendry has been acquitted of the charge of screening a film on the Sri Lankan killing fields, which had not been approved by the Censorship Board.
"The magistrate has found that the prosecution has failed to prove a prima facie case against her (Hendry) and has therefore acquitted her," Hendry's lawyer New Sin Yew said when met by reporters outside the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court after the decision was delivered today.

She was charged in September 2013 for allegedly screening 'No Fire Zone', a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war, which had not been approved by the Censorship Board, and the trial started in December last year.
Under Section 6(1)(b) of Film Censorship Act, 2002, she would face up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, if convicted.
She was acccused of committing the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commmerce Hall at Jalan Maharajalela in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm on July 3, 2013.
Expressing her relief and happiness, Hendry also reiterated that she should not have been charged in the first place as it was "a waste of time" for everyone involved.
"The government should stop doing this (charging activists) and let us do our work how we want to do it, so that things like this don't happen to others," she said.
In a separate statement today, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson commended the decision, saying that justice had finally been done.
"This was a politically motivated case that should never have been prosecuted in the first place, and was a blatant infringement on the right to freedom of expression," he said in the statement.
Instead of films being censored or banned, he said it was the strict limits of the Censorship Board that should be "snipped".

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

DAP MP tables motion to ban unilateral conversion of minors








PARLIAMENT DAP parliamentarian M Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat) ) has tabled a motion to seek the Dewan Rakyat's consent to prohibit the unilateral conversion of minors by amending the law.

His motion was listed as item number 16 in the Parliament's Order Paper.

"The House needs to be informed that the law has to be amended to prevent the unilateral conversion of minors with appropriate law enforcement, following the 2009 Cabinet's directive that children of the estranged couple should remain in the religion of the parent at the point of their marriage," read the motion.

The third interfaith committee set up by the cabinet to deal with the impasse of unilateral conversion has agreed to formulate the necessary legislation to be tabled to the House in the March sitting.

However, Kulasegaran said, this was only a mere assurance without progress as the lawmakers are in dark over the proposed legislative amendments.

"It is regrettable to date that the proposed draft amendments have yet to be sent to parliamentarians," he said in a statement today.

"The delay in forwarding the bills to MPs is a setback to the reforms promised by the government," he said.

Speedy amendments reforms to prevent unilateral conversion must be tabled to Parliament immediately


Media statement by M. Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Parliament on 8th March 2016

Speedy amendments reforms to prevent unilateral conversion must be tabled to Parliament immediately
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The importance of deliberation and consensus


In any mature Parliamentary democracy any amendment to laws that has wide implications to society as whole requires deliberation and concensus,besides a time frame to ensure that it does not turn out to be a mere academic exercise or an eyewash to deceive people. The continued foot dragging on the Part of the Government on the law amendments related to unilateral conversion and its refusal to provide MPs with the bill is a concern. It is a matter of time the pubic will question the sincererity of government in resolving aprotracted constitutional issue. Justice delayed is justice denied

Absents of Milestone for Progress
The Government has appointed a 5 main cabinet committee in early January 2016 to address the unilateral conversion to Islam of minor children. This was a upshot to Indiara Gandhi plight, where there was unilateral conversion of her 3 minor Children who were converted by their father who himself had converted into Islam. The conversions of the minors were without consent or knowledge of their mother. What is the input from this committee and is there a milestone to progress from? I believe the source of the problem is the tendency of working within the old paradigm that tries to work within a ethno religious ideology that creates stumbling blocks instead of working on a progressive paradigm of constitutional frame work that addresses issues of justice through the lens of Human Dignity and justice..


Pronouncemence lacking legislative bite
Thus a long court battle started in 2009 at the ipoh High Court. Although the Ipoh High Court agreed that the conversions of minor children were wrong this decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal on 30th December 2015. The issue is pending appeal to the Federal Court. When theunilateral conversion was first raised in Parliament 2009 the Government formed a Cabinet Committee. The role of the committee was a advisory one pronouncing conversion cases involving minor children ought to be raised in the faith they were in prior to the conversion. This more easy said than done as it lacked any legislative bite it was generally not followed or enforced. Then in 2013 another Cabinet committee was formed but nothing came out of it.

Assurance without progress
With this impasse, a 3rd Cabinet Committee was formed. So far we have heard assurances from this committee of the necessary legislation to prevent unilateral conversion will be so presented in the March sitting of Parliament. The cabinet committee comprises Health Minister Dr SSubramaniam; Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz; Transport Minister and MCA president Liow Tiong Lai; Islamic Affairs Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom; and cabinet minister Joseph Kurup, who is president of the United Sabah People’s Party. Indira event went to Parliament house on 28th January where she was assured by 3 Ministers namely Nazri, Kurup and Liow that the necessary legislation are being formulated and will be tabled in this March sitting. A mere assurance without progress




MPs in dark over proposed legislative amendments
Defacto law Minister Nancy said the relevant agencies like the Islamic body in the Federal Territories are still being consulted, as the federal government plans amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 and the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 to ensure that issues like child custody, alimony and division of marital assets are resolved in the court in which one’s marriage was registered.
Parliament is in session from tomorrow till the 7th of April. It is regrettable to date the proposed draft amendments have yet to be send to MPs. The delay in forwarding the bills to MPs is a set back to the reforms promised by the Government. MPs need adequate time to get feed pack form constituents, experts and Civil society for a proper debate in Parliament. Why the delay and the dragging of this issue is unfortunate. The lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the Government is disturbing and irresponsible.


Will the setting of interfaith committee prolong solutions?

I am concern whether the necessary amendments will ever take shape as it looks like the BN Government does not have the political will to do so. The recent setting of interfaith committee consisting of a 35 members on February 14th 2016 by Prime Minister Najib Razak to promote understanding and harmony among religious adherence ( JKMPKA) seems to suggest an immediate solution to the interfaith conversion issue will be dragged on. The million dollar question is will this interfaith committee play a significant role addressing this issues and will the Government will take its recommendation seriously. We have seen how the Government works where even recommendations from the royal commission of inquiries that chalenges its political authority is placed in the back burner.

Justice delayed is Justice denied

Many Malaysians are suffering in silence as many have been caught by the conversion issue many innocently. The lack of sense of urgency,transparency and accountability on the part of the Government deprives Malaysians of their dignity and their rights as citizens. . Justice delayed is justice denied. There fore an urgent proactive action is needed by the Government. I call upon the Government to immediately provide MPs with bill related to unilateral conversion so there would be enough time for deliberation and engagement with civil society,

Monday, March 7, 2016

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CITIZENS' DECLARATION


The country is in turmoil. There are too many demeaning incidents that do not inspire confidence in the present leadership, particularly Dato Seri Najib Razak. Foreign governments are not too comfortable to deal with the present Prime Minister, because his explanations about the money found in his personal bank account varied from one another which is nothing but a clear case of vaccillating. His handpicked Attorney-General believes that he is the law and whatever he says must be accepted. In this regard he treats the whole legal system as being incapable of differentiating between chalk and cheese. An Attorney-General who condones criminal acts is unfit to be one. And in handling Najib's case he has clearly abused the discretionary power he has.


UMNO Baru is split, hence within the country Dato Seri Najib Razak's prestige as Prime Minister is in shambles. His integrity as a leader is questioned. The most important question that looms at large is who needs to be saved? Najib or Malaysia? Who needs to be protected UMNO Baru led by Najib or Malaysia? The answers to both question would be if you love Malaysia, then, it need to be saved. If you love Malaysia, then, it needs protection. Thus, Malaysia needs to be saved from greedy, unscrupulous, and corrupt leaders like Najib. Malaysia needs to be protected from Najib and those who support him. Therefore, the Citizens' Declaration first of its kind in the country's history can only be seen as a genuine effort to save Malaysia from leaders whose motive is self-aggrandisement and unjust enrichment and at the same time the declaration seeks to protect the country and the people from unjust laws perpetuated by Najib and his supporters.


What is remarkable is the fact that the current UMNO Baru is Mahathir's brain child, and its transformation into a political Frankenstein is there for all to see. This Frankenstein under the control of Najib actually caused more damage than one could imagine. It is time the creator of this Frankenstein come out to destroy what he had created. Besides, Najib the Frankenstein is also Mahathir's creation, hence it is only befitting that he leads to ensure that his creation does not cause more irreparable damage.


The signatories to the Citizens' Declaration by mostly of political parties with diverse objectives and non-government organisations can only be seen as awakening to meet the challenge the unjust course pursued by Najib and his supporters. The significance of the Citizens' Declaration could only mean that its motive is to see a clean, efficient, transparent and fair Malaysian government whose aim must be for a just society. SAVE MALAYSIA.



K. Siladass

Friday, March 4, 2016

Kula hopes gov’t interfaith panel will not succumb to bugbears






DAP national vice-chair M Kulasegaran said the government’s formation of an interfaith committee to promote harmony among the different religions was a laudable move provided it does not succumb to the usual hazards.


The MP for Ipoh Barat enumerated these hazards as political expediency overriding moral imperatives, manipulation of religion for one-upmanship, and the conduct of a veneer of discourse as cover for projection of supremacist versions of a creed.


“The government in forming this interfaith committee to promote harmony among adherents of the different religions in Malaysia must match deed to word,” urged Kulasegaran.


In respect of his past initiatives in promoting equality of economic opportunity and in encouraging racial and religious harmony, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has wavered when the going gets rough,” noted the federal legislator.

That is why the public is sceptical that the latest initiative which entails the formation of an interfaith committee will succeed in making headway against the reactionary forces ranged against it,” he asserted.


Kulsegaran said conflicting signals from Najib had undercut his initiatives at the start of his administration seven years ago.


“He wanted to liberalise ethnic quotas in certain economic sectors but backpedalled when Malay right wingers reacted adversely to the measures.


“Then the PM initiated the Global Movement for Moderates (GMM) but allowed that laudable gesture to droop in the face of strident calls from religious hardiners that no quarter be given to liberal interpretations,” narrated Kulasegaran from a list of Najb’s prevarications.


He said the PM’s wavering led to his nominated chief of GMM, Saifuddin Abdullah, to leave the NGO because of the lack of sustained conviction behind the initiator of the body.


“The PM’s track record at promoting his own initiatives has been less than stellar and so the interfaith committee is met with deep scepticism as to its efficacy,” observed Kulasegaran.


On Feb 14, the government annouced the formation of a 35-member interfaith committee to promote harmony among people of the different faiths in Malaysia.


“The proof of the pudding lies in its eating,” observed Kulasegaran.


“Laudable measures must be hailed even when we know hope makes a good breakfast but is likely to wind up as a lean supper,” said the lawyer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FORUM COMPETITION IN CONVERSION CASES: A REVIEW OF PATHMANATHAN V. INDIRA GHANDI (COURT OF APPEAL DECISION)

1. Introduction

The Court of Appeal penned down on 30 December 2015 its decision in the much publicised conversion case of Pathmanathan A/L Krishnan v. Indira Ghandi a/p Mutho, which was heard together with two other appeals before the same panel. The two other appeals were brought against Indira Ghandi a/p Mutho respectively by the Director of the Islamic Religious Affairs of Perak & Ors and by Ministry of Education Malaysia & Another. All the three appeals arose from the decision of Lee Swee Seng J made in the matter of one judicial review application made by Indira Ghandi against six respondents including Pathmanathan, the Director of the Islamic Religious Affairs of Perak and Ministry of Education.

2. Background facts

Indira Ghandi was married to Pathmanathan in 1993. The couple had three children. In March 2009, the husband converted to Islam. At this time, the children were respectively aged 12 years, 11 years and 11 months. Immediately after his conversion, he procured from the Islamic Religious Affairs of Perak certificates of conversion of the three children purportedly under the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, which is a state legislation (“the Perak Enactment”). Indira Ghandi had no knowledge of the purported conversion of the children. At the material time, the two elder children were with Indira Ghandi and the youngest with Pathmanathan. It is apparent that, at the material time, the two elder children had no knowledge of their conversion, and the youngest aged 11 months only could not have had any knowledge of his conversion. Upon coming to know of the certificates of conversion, Indira Ghandi instituted an action before the High Court by way of judicial review to challenge the issuance of the certificates of conversion. In the judicial review application, she named as respondents Pathmanathan, the Director of Islamic Affairs of Perak, the Ministry of Education and three others. The High Court allowed the application and quashed the certificates. All the six respondents appealed to the Court of Appeal through a total of three appeals.

3. Decision of the Court of Appeal The panel in the Court of Appeal comprised Balia Yusof bin Hj Wahi JCA, Badariah binti Sahamid JCA and Hamid Sultan bin Abu Backer JCA. The panel heard all the appeals together. The panel was divided in its decision. Balia Yusof JCA, with whom Badariah JCA concurred, found in favour of the Pathmanathan and other five appellants (“the Appellants”). Hamid Sultan JCA found in favour of Indira Ghandi. The result was a decision by majority, with Hamid Sultan JCA dissenting, allowing all the three appeals with no order as to costs. This paper will analyse the case from the perspectives both of the majority decision and of the dissenting judgment. In undertaking this task, it will be helpful first to set out the judgment of Balia Yusof JCA and then of Hamid Sultan JCA, followed by the author’s review of them.


 4. Judgment of Balia Yusof JCA

Balia Yusof JCA first proposed to resolve the issue of jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain the judicial review application in question. His Lordship framed the question as to whether the High Court had “jurisdiction to deal with the issue of conversion to the religion of Islam”. His Lordship adopted an approach what his Lordship called “subject matter approach”. Taking this approach, his Lordship came to the following conclusion in two sentences: … whether a person is a Muslim or not is a matter falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. The determination of the validity of the conversion of any person to the religion of Islam is strictly a religious issue and it falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.  In coming to the above conclusion, his Lordship relied on the Federal Court decision in Hj Raimi bin Abdullah v. Siti Hasnah Vangarama bt. Abdullah [2014] 3 MLJ 757, particularly the following passage: Article 121 of the Federal Constitution clearly provided that the civil court shall have no jurisdiction on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. … Whether a person was a Muslim or not was a matter falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. It would be highly inappropriate for the civil court, which lacks jurisdiction pursuant to art 121, to determine the validity of the conversion of any person to the religion of Islam as this is strictly a religious issue.

Therefore, the question of the plaintiff’s conversion in 1983 fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. (emphasis added) His Lordship further relied on sections 50(2)(b) (x) and (xi) of the Perak Enactment which confers the following subject matter jurisdiction, subject to the general limitation that the section applies only when all parties to the action are Muslims:

(x) a declaration that a person is no longer a Muslim;

(xi) a declaration that a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death (emphasis added)

On that basis, his Lordship stressed and repeated his Lordship’s conclusion in the following words: A plain reading of the aforesaid provisions puts it beyond doubt that the power to declare the status of a Muslim person is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah High Court. It followed that on that ground alone, his Lordship would allow the appeal, ie, disallow the challenge by Indira Ghandi to the conversion certificates. However his Lordship felt impelled to proceed to deal with the merits of the challenge by Indira Ghandi, i.e. whether the conversion certificates were issued contrary to the law and thus a nullity ab initio. In dealing with the merits of the challenge, his Lordship considered sections 96 and 106 and sections 100 and 101 of the Perak

Enactment, which are reproduced in order below: 96. Requirement for conversion to the religion of Islam.

1) The following requirements shall be complied with for a valid conversion of a person to the religion of Islam:
(a) the person must utter in reasonably intelligible Arabic the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith;

(b) at the time of uttering the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith the person must be aware that they mean “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. is the Messenger of Allah”; and (c) the utterance must be made of the person's own free will. 2) A person who is incapable of speech may, for the purpose of fulfilling the requirement of paragraph (1)(a), utter the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith by means of signs that convey the meaning specified in paragraph (i)(b).

106. Capacity to convert to the religion of Islam.

 For the purpose of this Part, a person who is not a Muslim may convert to the religion of Islam if he is of mind and:- (a) has attained the age of eighteen years; or (b)if he has not attained the age of eighteen years, his parent or guardian consents in writing to his conversion.

100. Registration of Muallafs.

1) A person who has converted to the religion of Islam may apply to the Registrar in the prescribed form for registration as a muallaf. 2) If the Registrar is satisfied that the requirements of section 96 have been fulfilled in respect of the applicant, the Registrar may register the applicant's conversion to the religion of Islam by entering in the Register of Muallafs the name of the applicant and other particulars as indicated in the Register of Muallafs. 3) … 4) … 5) …

101. Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam.

 1) The Registrar shall furnish every person whose conversion to the religion of Islam has been registered a Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam in the prescribed form. 2) A certificate of Conversion to Religion of Islam shall be conclusive proof of the facts stated in the Certificate. The merits of the challenge, as framed by Indira Ghandi was twofold. Firstly, section 96 was not complied with because the children did not utter the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith (“the Affirmation of Faith”). Secondly, section 106 was not satisfied because she did not give her consent for the purported conversion. It was not disputed that the three children (the youngest of which was only 11-month old) did not utter the Affirmation of Faith, and therefore the “requirements for conversion to the religion of Islam” set out in the section 96 were not complied with. However the issue of whether section 106 was
contravened was a disputed one.

 It was Indira Ghandi’s argument that the consent of “parent or guardian” required in the section 106 meant the consent of the “parents” in this case. To the contrary, the Appellants argued that it meant either parent. Before addressing sections 96 and 106, his Lordship directed his Lordship’s mind to section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment and relied on it to say that a certificate of conversion was not challengeable because pursuant to the section, the facts stated in the certificates of conversion are conclusive proof thereof. His Lordship pointed out that the conversion certificates stated “the fact of conversion” and “the fact that the persons named therein has been registered in the Registrar of Muallafs.” Having held that, by virtue of the section 101(2), the conversion certificates are not open to challenge, his Lordship however also said that any challenge to the certificates must be made at the Syariah court.

In dealing with the issue of conclusiveness of conversion certificates, his Lordship also relied on the decision in Saravanan Thangatoray v. Subashini Rajasingam & Another Appeal [2007] 2 CLJ 451 made by the Court of Appeal by majority (which was affirmed by the Federal Court again by majority as reported in [2008] 2 CLJ 1). In Saravanan’s case, a husband converted to Islam and subsequently the wife petitioned for divorce under section 51(1) of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. Under this section, when a spouse converts to Islam, the other spouse who has not so converted may petition for divorce. The section also imposes a limitation that a petition under this section may only be presented after expiry of three months from the date of the conversion. In opposition the petition, the husband contended that the petition was filed within the period of three months after conversion, but the wife argued otherwise. The date of conversion was disputed. In resolving the issue as to the date of conversion, the Court of Appeal (by majority) held that the date stated in the certificate of conversion was conclusive proof thereof, by virtue of section 112(2) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 (“the Selangor Enactment”) which is in pari materia with section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment. Relying on the above, Balia Yusof JCA in the instant appeal was of the view that the certificate of conversion is not open to challenge and said that “the High Court has to accept the facts stated [in the conversion certificates] and it is beyond the powers of the [High Court] to question the same.” Having so discounted the challenge at the outset, his Lordship however dwelled into the question of whether a single parent can give the requisite consent in the section 106, and answered this question in the affirmative.

 In so answering, his Lordship relied on the remarks made by the Federal Court, by majority, in Subashini a/p Rajasingam v. Saravanan a/l Thangathoray and other appeals [2008] 2 CLJ 1 with regard to the meaning of “parent” appearing in article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution. The remark made by the Federal Court in relation to the article 12(4) in that case was that “[e]ither husband or wife has the right to convert a child of the marriage to Islam”.

The article 12 reads as follows:

12. Rights in respect of education
 1) Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race, descent or place of birth:- a) in the administration of any educational institution maintained by a public authority, and, in particular, the admission of pupils or students or the payment of fees; or b) …
 2) Every religious group has the right to establish and maintain institutions for the education of children in its own religion …
3) No person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own.
4) For the purposes of Clause (3) the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. His Lordship relied on Subashini’s case to say that there was no violation in the case before his Lordship of article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution, which reads as follows:

11. Freedom of religion

1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it. The decision of his Lordship can now be conveniently summarised as follows: 1) The jurisdiction to decide the issue of validity of conversion is exclusively vested in the Syariah courts, and as such by virtue of article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, the matter is outside the jurisdiction of the High Court. 2) Section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment renders the certificates of conversion unchallengeable. 3) Any challenge to the certificates of conversion must be taken before the Syariah court. 4) The right of either parent to consent for conversion is entrenched in article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and it does not run contrary to article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

5. Judgment of Hamid Sultan JCA

 Hamid Sultan JCA, the dissenting judge in this appeal, started off by visiting the framework of the Perak Enactment, which contained 113 sections in 11 parts. His Lordship opined that not all the provisions in the Enactment are protected by article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution so as to be out of the realm of civil courts. His Lordship emphasised the meaning of the article 121(1A), which reads as follows:

(1A) The courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. His Lordship identified that the article 121(1A) is largely applicable to Part IV entitled “Syariah Jurisdiction”, which contains 23 sections numbered from sections 44 to 66. His Lordship said that it is only to some of these sections that the article 121(1A) applies.

His Lordship simplified this in two sentences by saying that: i. “the civil courts’ judicial review powers in the administrative decision of the state or its agencies and/or its officers” are not excluded by the article 121(1A); and ii. “[w]hat the civil courts cannot do is to intervene in the lawful decision of the Syariah Courts made within its jurisdiction and not in excess of its jurisdiction.” His Lordship framed the questions in the appeal as whether the matter of exercise of the powers of the Pendaftar Muallaf came within the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. If the answer is in the negative, then any decision made by the Pendaftar Muallaf is subject to the judicial review powers of the civil courts. In determining the jurisdiction of the Syariah court, his Lordship visited section 50(3)(b) of the Perak Enactment which set out the civil jurisdiction of the Syariah High Court and read as follows: (3) The Syariah High Court shall-- (a) in its criminal jurisdiction, …

[2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 13 (b) in its civil jurisdiction, hear and determine all actions and proceedings if all the parties to the actions or proceedings are Muslims and the action or proceedings relate to:- (i) betrothal, marriage, ruju', divorce, annulment of marriage (fasakh), nusyuz, or judicial separation (faraq) or any other matter relating to the relationship between husband and wife. (ii) any disposition of or claim to property arising out of any of the matters set out in subparagraph (i); (iii) the maintenance of dependants, legitimacy, or guardianship or custody (hadhanah) of infants; (iv) the division of, or claims to, harta sepencarian; (v) wills or gifts made while in a state of marad-almaut; (vi) gifts intervivos; or settlements made without adequate consideration in money or money's worth by a Muslim; (vii) wakaf or nazr; (viii) division and inheritance of testate or intestate property; [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 14 (ix) the determination of the persons entitled to share in the estate of a deceased Muslim or the shares to which such persons are respectively entitled; (x) a declaration that a person is no longer a Muslim; (xi) a declaration that a deceased person was a Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death; and (xii) other matters in respect of which jurisdiction is conferred by any written law. In dealing with the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Syariah court, his Lordship discounted in particular the subsections (x) and (xi), which were relied on by Balia Yusof JCA, because (x) empowers the Syariah court to declare that a person is no longer a Muslim and (xi) to declare that a deceased person was Muslim or otherwise at the time of his death. The case has nothing to do with the matters covered in either of these subsections. His Lordship seemed to have at the forefront of his Lordship’s mind the following: i) None of the limbs of section 50(3)(b) of the Perak Enactment conferred the jurisdiction on the Syariah court to determine any question as to conversion. ii) None of the limbs of section 50(3)(b) of the Perak Enactment clothed the Syariah court with any jurisdiction to judicially [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 15 review any administrative action including the one by the Registrar of Muallaf in issuing a certificate of conversion. iii) To the contrary, the civil courts are conferred the jurisdiction to judicially review any administrative action (see paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964). iv) Accordingly, the subject-matter jurisdiction to decide an issue of conversion or an application to judicially review the administrative action of the Registrar of Muallaf was vested in the civil courts.

His Lordship put his foot down and concluded that “[i]n the instant case, the Pendaftar Muallaf certificate of conversion has nothing to do with the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court and/or decision of the Syariah Court as asserted in Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution”. This will answer the pivotal issue in the case, ie, the jurisdictional issue. However, answering the question as to jurisdiction does not answer the appeal in its entirety, as the next issue, if the High Court had the requisite jurisdiction to judicially review the matter of issuance of the conversion certificates, is whether the High Court rightly quashed the conversion certificates by exercise of that jurisdiction. Before moving on to the next issue, leaving aside the question of subjectmatter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, his Lordship was mindful of the limitation to the personam jurisdiction in the section 50(3)(b), ie, the Syariah court has jurisdiction only when all parties to the action are Muslims, which was not the case in the appeal before his Lordship. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 16 Now moving on to the next issue, it was not disputed that the requirements for conversion set out in section 96 of the Perak Enactment was not complied with, i.e. none of the children uttered the Affirmation of Faith, particularly the youngest of them being only 11-month old and the other two being with the mother,

 Indira Ghandi. His Lordship was also of the view that the parental consent required in section 106 was not complied with, although this was a controversial issue in this appeal. It followed that his Lordship answered the next issue (whether the conversion certificates should be quashed) in the affirmative and concluded that “the administration order of the Pendaftar Muallaf is a nullity ab initio and ought to be set aside of right for non-compliance of section 96 and 106 of the [Perak Enactment]”.

In so concluding, his Lordship reminded that the principle enunciated in Badiaddin bin Mohd Mahidin & Anor v. Arab Malaysian Finance Bhd [1998] 1 MLJ 393 (“the Badiaddin principle”) equally applies in judicial review matters. Before concluding his judgment, his Lordship helpfully observed that article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution “has nothing to do with conversion” and that “[i]t only permits a parent or guardian from deciding the religion of the child for purpose of worship of a religion other than his own” and thereby put an end to the anathema of applying the article 12 to conversion cases as was done in Subashini’s case. It is recalled that the article 12 is entitled “Rights in respect of education” and the articles 12(3) and (4), which must be read together, provide as follows:

[2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 17 3) No person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own. 4) For the purposes of Clause (3) the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. (emphasis added) 6. The author’s review The issues for determination in the appeal were as follows: i) Whether the High Court had the jurisdiction to hear the judicial review application which mounted a challenge to the conversion certificates? ii) If the above question is answered in the affirmative, whether the conversion certificates were issued in non-compliance with the provisions of the Perak Enactment and thus a nullity and liable to be quashed? Each of the issues will in turn be addressed at length below.

 That will be followed by discussion of a few other matters arising in the course of the respective judgments of Balia Yusof JCA and Hamid Sultan JCA and finally conclusion. 7. The first issue [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 18 Before moving on, at the outset, it must be noted that the “civil courts”, meaning High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are the only courts constituted by the Federal Constitution (in Part IX entitled “Judiciary”). At face value, if a matter is within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, then the civil courts will have no jurisdiction over it. This is the result of article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, which was inserted into the Federal Constitution by Constitution (Amendment) Act 1988. Accordingly, the question is whether the issue brought by Indira Ghandi is one falling within the Syariah court jurisdiction. In order to rightly understand the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, it is important to understand the legislative power of States to legislate in matters broadly relating to Islamic law, because the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts is tied to the said legislative power. This is explained below. Article 74(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that a State may legislate only in respect of matters falling within the State List (Second List) or Concurrent List (Third List) in the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution. The article 74(2) reads as follows: … the Legislature of a State may make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State List (that is to say, the Second List set out in the Ninth Schedule) or the Concurrent List.

Only paragraph 1 of the State List contains matters relating to Islamic law and Syariah courts. Accordingly, that is the only part that one has to look [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 19 at to determine the boundaries both of the legislative power of States in matters connected to Islamic law and of the jurisdiction of Syariah courts. Paragraph 1 is reproduced below (the splitting and alphabetical subnumbering of the paragraph, which is not so done in the actual text, is added by the author for ease of reading): Ninth Schedule -

State List 1. Except with respect to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya: [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 20 a) Islamic law and personal and family law of persons professing the religion of Islam, including the Islamic law relating to succession, testate and intestate, betrothal, marriage, divorce, dower, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, guardianship, gifts, partitions and non-charitable trusts; b) Wakafs and the definition and regulation of charitable and religious trusts, the appointment of trustees and the incorporation of persons in respect of Islamic religious and charitable endowments, institutions, trusts, charities and charitable institutions operating wholly within the State; c) Malay customs; d) Zakat, Fitrah and Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue; e) mosques or any Islamic public places of worship, creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List; f) the constitution, organization and procedure of Syariah courts, which shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam and in respect only of [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 21 any of the matters included in this paragraph, but shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law; g) the control of propagating doctrines and beliefs among persons professing the religion of Islam; h) the determination of matters of Islamic law and doctrine and Malay custom. (emphasis and alphabetical sub-paragraphing added) At this juncture, it must be pointed out that there are two schools of thoughts. One school looks at State legislations (such as the Perak Enactment) for the jurisdiction of Syariah courts.


 The other looks at the Federal Constitution, more particularly paragraph 1 of the Ninth Schedule thereto. With due respect, it is erroneous to look at State legislations for jurisdiction of Syariah courts and the correct approach is to look at paragraph 1. The sub-paragraph marked as (f) above provides that “Syariah courts … shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam and in respect only of any of the matters included in this paragraph”. This is the jurisdictional boundary of the Syariah courts, and their jurisdiction is neither more nor less than that. In fact, even apart from the sub-paragraph (f), if one starts looking at State legislations for the jurisdiction, an anomaly will be created. Different States may purportedly confer, in fact as they have done, jurisdiction of [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 22 different scopes on their Syariah courts. When a controversial matter comes before a civil court, it has to hypothetically decide whether the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. If every Syariah court has a different jurisdiction, then which Syariah court jurisdiction is the civil court to look at? This is what was said as the ‘anomaly’ that will result if one looks at State legislations for Syariah court jurisdiction. As far as civil matters are concerned, a plain reading of the sub-paragraph (f) above tells that in order for the Syariah courts to gain jurisdiction over a cause, two aspects must be satisfied. The first aspect is that all parties to the cause profess the religion of Islam (which the author will call “personam jurisdiction”). The second is that the subject matter is one included within the paragraph, i.e. included in any of sub-paragraphs as (a) through (h) above (which the author will call “subject-matter” jurisdiction). Logically, sub-paragraph (f) would be excluded from the list of subject-matter jurisdiction as it defines the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts rather than providing any subject matter which would fall within the jurisdiction. At the outset, it must be observed that, in matters broadly of Islamic law, the power of States to legislate and the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts coincide. They are all in the paragraph 1 and are the same. Under the paragraph 1, if a State has authority to legislate on a matter, then it is also necessarily within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. However, this does not mean that the Syariah court automatically gains its jurisdiction over any cause involving such a matter, as there is an [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 23 additional caveat before it gains jurisdiction, i.e. the parties to the cause must all profess the religion of Islam (the personam jurisdiction aspect). Personam jurisdiction aspect In the instant case, one of the parties (properly a party) to the cause was a non-Muslim and hence the Syariah court did not have any personam jurisdiction over the matter. This fact has already caught the attention of many, but what has not caught their attention is the fact that most of the respondents in the High Court (the Appellants in the instant appeal) were also not “persons professing the religion of Islam” within the paragraph 1. Is the Ministry of Education one professing the religion of Islam? Is the office of the Director of the Islamic Religious Affairs of Perak one professing the religion of Islam? The answer is ‘no’. In the context of the paragraph 1, religion attaches to an individual and not to an institution. Ordinarily, in any judicial review application, as it was so in the present case, the primary respondent will be an administrative authority. An administrative authority is not person professing any religion in the context of the paragraph 1. Hence, ordinarily a judicial review application will necessarily be outside the jurisdictional boundary of Syariah courts, i.e. the personam jurisdiction aspect will not ordinarily be satisfied in cases of judicial review applications. Leaving that aside, to approach the matter most simply, Indira Ghandi cannot bring an action before the Syariah court. This suffices to say that the matter was outside the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 24 It must be borne in mind that if she is not allowed go to the civil courts, she has no place within our land to go to for justice. That is not the law of our land and that is not what the article 121(1A) says. All that the article 121(1A) says is that that the civil courts shall have no jurisdiction if it is a cause over which the Syariah courts have jurisdiction, as stressed by Hamid Sultan JCA. It must be added that it was not disputed that Indira Ghandi was properly a party to the action and had the requisite locus standi to bring the action. Any parent has certain responsibilities towards and rights in matters affecting his or her child. A reference to section 5 of the Guardianship Act 1961 may help those who will look for authority to support this proposition. The section 5 reads as follows:

 5. Equality of parental rights

 (1) In relation to the custody or upbringing of an infant or the administration of any property belonging to or held in trust for an infant or the application of the income of any such property, a mother shall have the same rights and authority as the law allows to a father, and the rights and authority of mother and father shall be equal. (2) The mother of an infant shall have the like powers of applying to the Court in respect of any matter affecting the infant as are possessed by the father. As the personam jurisdiction aspect is not satisfied, it is not necessary to analyse whether the cause is within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 25 Syariah courts. However purely for academic purposes, it will be analysed whether the matter falls within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. Subject matter jurisdiction aspect The subject matter in issue in the instant case is ‘conversion’. Under what sub-paragraph of the paragraph 1 does it fall under?

This is a difficult question to answer. Taken at face value, none of the sub-paragraphs cover conversion. It must be borne in mind that conversion is a matter that is transitional in nature, which the author will call a ‘transreligional’ matter. The sub-paragraph (a) does not cover conversion because it only applies to persons already professing the religion of Islam. Equally sub-paragraph (c) will not help as Malay custom cannot have anything to do with conversion to the religion of Islam, which is a ‘transreligional’ matter. Possibly sub-paragraph (h) may be wide enough to cover conversion as it includes “determination of matters of Islamic law or doctrine”. It is not proposed to dwell into this question further but it will be taken that the sub-paragraph (h) covers conversion for the purposes of this paper, although it is a subject that requires research on its own right. Assuming sub-paragraph (h) covers conversion, then it is a matter falling within the authority of a State to legislate and hence within the subjectmatter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. This does not mean that in such cases, the cause is within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. This is because, apart from the fact that the respondent is usually an authority and thus not professing any religion within paragraph

 1, when a purported [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 26 convert challenges the conversion, the underlying dispute is whether he is a Muslim / a person professing the religion of Islam. If a court finds that the conversion is a nullity ab initio, then it follows that he has not been, at any time, a Muslim / a person professing the religion of Islam. In fact if a Syariah court were to try a conversion case and at the end find that the purported conversion is a nullity ab initio, then it would only have wasted its time as it would have had no jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place and will have no jurisdiction to make any decision at the end. A civil court can only decline jurisdiction if the cause is within the jurisdiction of Syariah courts.

When a claimant raises an issue as to validity of his own conversion ab initio before a civil court, how can the court decide that it does not have jurisdiction until it decides whether the conversion is valid or void ab initio? If it is void ab initio, then the claimant was not a Muslim / a person professing the religion of Islam, and hence would properly be before the civil court. Whenever an issue as to jurisdiction is raised before a civil court, it must positively decide the issue (in one way or another) and not decline to decide. Analysis of Balia Yusof JCA’s grounds The author reached a conclusion that the matter brought by Indira Ghandi was outside the jurisdiction of Syariah courts, as much as the conclusion reached by Hamid Sultan JCA. However Balia Yusof JCA arrived at a conclusion that is the straight opposite. For a proper understanding of the subject, the grounds of Balia Yusof JCA must be finely analysed.

[2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 27 In concluding that the matter was within the Syariah court jurisdiction and hence outside the jurisdiction of the civil courts, Balia Yusof JCA substantially relied on the case of Hj. Raimi bin Abdullah v. Siti Hasnah Vangarama bt Abdullah and another appeal decided by the Federal Court. In that case, the Federal Court dealt with an appeal arising from an application made by the respondent Siti Hasnah Vangarama bt Abdullah. The respondent’s application was in effect for a declaration that her conversion to Islam was null and void ab initio. The respondent was born in Aug 1982. When she was one year and three months old, in Nov 1983, both her parents converted to the religion of Islam at Pahang. As part of the conversion process, the father made a statutory declaration saying that he had voluntarily embraced Islam together with his five children (which included the respondent). However, the Registrar of Muallaf at Pahang issued conversion certificates only to the parents and not to any of the children. By 1989, the whole family moved from Pahang to Penang. In 1989, the family was in desperate straits. The respondent and two of her siblings were sent to the Ramakrishna orphanage in Penang (a Hindu organisation). By end of 1989, the mother passed away. That was immediately followed by the Director of Islamic Religious Department of Penang, through its enforcement officers, removing the respondent (along with her two siblings) from the orphanage. On the very day, the Director got the respondent, then aged seven years only, to go through the process of conversion and to sign the certificate of conversion and had the certificate of conversion issued to the respondent by the relevant authority in Penang. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 28 The Director placed the three children in an Islamic religious school. The respondent ran away and was subsequently returned to the Director. The Director then placed the respondent under the charge of an officer called Puan Sabariah.

Then the respondent was transferred to a Children’s Home in Penang, and then back to the Director and finally returned to the Children’s Home in Penang by an order of the Juvenile Court. The respondent again ran away from the Children’s Home. Hence, the respondent applied to the High Court in essence for a declaration that the purported conversion made at Penang in 1989 was a nullity ab initio. The Federal Court visited paragraph 1 of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution, in particular sub-paragraph (a), namely “Islamic law, personal and family law of persons professing the religion of Islam”, and said in the peculiar context of the case that “whether a person is a Muslim or not is a matter falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.” It was said that the factual context was peculiar because the Federal Court concluded that on the date of the alleged conversion in 1989, the respondent was already a Muslim, because the respondent was already converted to the religion of Islam in 1983 when her father made the statutory declaration not only covering himself but also his five children including the respondent. In the absence of challenge to the 1983 conversion, the respondent was already a Muslim by 1989 and hence the question of validity of the conversion in 1989, if any, should only be decided by the Syariah court.

In fact any decision as to validity of the 1989 [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 29 conversion by whichever court will not affect the status of the respondent if she was already Muslim since 1983. The Federal Court took particular note that the respondent did not challenge the 1983 conversion (see paragraph 29). The court also acknowledged that if the Syariah court were to decide that the 1983 conversion was not valid, then the civil courts would have the jurisdiction to decide the disputed conversion in 1989. The passage of the Federal Court must be repeated in verbatim below: [31] … We hold that the matter of conversion of the plaintiff together with her father in 1983 ought to be determined first by the Syariah Court, then only the issue of the alleged conversion in 1989 could appropriately be determined by the civil court. The resultant true understanding from the case is that any dispute as to conversion is a matter falling within the jurisdiction of civil courts. Balia Yusof JCA, with due respect, misunderstood the Hj Raimi’s case and applied it contrary to its true meaning.

If Hj Raimi’s case was correctly applied, the result would have been the opposite. It is not within the scope of this paper to analyse whether the Federal Court was correct in holding that there was a conversion in 1983. Considering such a question will involve questions as to right of parents to convert their child without the consent of the child and whether such a conversion would be contrary to article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution, which is only lightly discussed near to the end of this paper. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 30 For completeness, it must be said that not only the factual matrix was peculiar in Hj Raimi’s case with two purported conversions, but the State enactment was equally so. The State enactment applicable to the 1983 conversion was the Administration of the Religion of Islam and the Malay Custom of Pahang Enactment 1982. Unlike the Perak Enactment, it did not require children to utter the Affirmation of Faith for conversion but merely required the consent of a parent who himself or herself converts. The relevant section was section 101 of the Pahang Enactment, which read as follows:

101. Minor converted to the Religion of Islam. No person under the age of eighteen years shall be registered as having been converted to the Religion of Islam otherwise than with the approval of his parents or guardian: Provided that if his mother, father or guardian is converted to the Religion of Islam …, he may be registered as having been converted to the Religion of Islam. Having held as above, the Federal Court a little confusingly made a further remark in passing that “it would be highly inappropriate for the civil court to determine the validity of the conversion of any person to the religion of Islam as this is strictly a religious issue. As such the civil court shall have no jurisdiction by reason of art 121(1A).” Does the article 121(1A) say that the civil court shall have no jurisdiction if it is a strictly a religious issue? No. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 31 The question is not whether conversion is strictly a religious issue, but whether it falls within one of the sub-paragraphs within the paragraph 1 of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution so that the matter will be within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. If so, the jurisdiction of the civil courts would be ousted by the article 121(1A) provided that all parties to the action profess the religion of Islam.

Even without reference to the paragraph 1, why it is ‘inappropriate’ for the civil courts to decide the validity of conversion? What is the difficulty that a civil court may have in checking whether the process of conversion was duly complied with, such as uttering the Affirmation of Faith by the purported convert, etc? With due respect, it is neither inappropriate nor poses any difficulty for the civil courts to decide the issue at hand. In making the above discussed remark, the Federal Court referred to its previous decision in Soon Singh A/L Bikar Singh V. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim) Kedah & Anor [1999] 1 MLJ 489. That was a case where the question was whether the applicant had converted out of Islam and not any dispute over his original conversion to Islam. What the applicant asked for in that case was “a declaration that the plaintiff, having renounced the religion of Islam and re- embraced the Sikh faith, is no longer a Muslim; ....” The Federal Court in that case held that the issue of conversion out of Islam was a matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.

These are called apostasy or murtad cases. In the absence of ‘conversion-out’, the ‘conversion-in’ stood and he was a Muslim / a person professing the religion of Islam amenable to the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 32 It is not within the ambit of this paper to analyse whether ‘conversion-out’ falls within the paragraph 1 of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution, and accordingly it is not proposed to dwell into that subject save for saying that that jurisprudence does not affect the analysis in respect of ‘conversion-in’ cases that is undertaken in this paper. In the case of Soon Singh, the Federal Court referred to Dalip Kaur V. Pegawai Polis Daerah, Balai Polis Daerah, Bukit Mertajam & Anor [1992] 1 MLJ 1, another apostasy case decided by the Supreme Court. In that case, Dalip Kaur, the mother of a deceased convert son applied to the court for a declaration that her deceased son was at the time of his death not a Muslim. The civil court assumed jurisdiction and tried the case at full length and found that the convert son had not converted out as a matter of fact. There was no dispute as to the original ‘conversion-in’, which was voluntarily done by the son a few months prior to his death with a view to marrying a Muslim girl. The son converted to the religion of Islam on 1 June 1991. The convert son went through an engagement ceremony with his girlfriend, a Muslim girl, on 28 Sept 1991.

The wedding was scheduled to take place on 25 Nov 1991. In the meantime, the convert son fetched his fiancĂ© from home to work in the night of 2 Oct 1991, and he was found dead the next day on 3rd Oct 1991. The plaintiff, the mother of the convert son, claimed that his son had converted out by a deed poll signed by him on 9 Sept 1991. The handwriting expert who compared 10 signatures of the deceased opined that the signature on the deed poll did not belong to the deceased. The judge having heard the factual matrix of the case found that the deceased [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 33 did not sign the deed poll and did not convert out, and hence remained a Muslim at the time of this death. On appeal, it was agreed by consensus of parties that the question will be referred to fatwa committee. The fatwa committee returned its finding that the deceased was a Muslim at the time of his death. This concluded the matter and the plaintiff was not then allowed to re-open the case. It is repeated that it is not within the ambit of this paper to analyse ‘conversion-out’ cases. Caution before applying precedents in conversion cases This is an area of jurisprudence known for its controversy and plenitude of conflicting decisions. Any judge applying a precedent from this jurisprudence must be mindful of at least three principles, which follow:

1) The precedent is not per in curium. 2) The precedent is not contrary to the law rendering it of no effect (see the Badiaddin principle) 3) Applying the precedent does not compromise the constitutional oath taken by the judge by virtue of which he or she holds office. The third principle above is what Hamid Sultan JCA calls “constitutional oath jurisprudence” and has often stressed at many instances including in the instant appeal. The foremost duty of the judge is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 34 Judges of the civil courts, unlike those of the Syariah Courts, take a constitutional oath under article 124 of the Federal Constitution materially in the format in the Sixth Schedule to the Federal Constitution, the essence of which is that his or her foremost duty is to preserve, protect and defend the Federal Constitution. The Sixth Schedule reads as follows: I, ..................................................., having been elected (or appointed) to the office of ............................do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge the duties of that office to the best of my ability, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia, and will preserve, protect and defend its Constitution. … (emphasis added) In this context, the article 121(1A) must be revisited. Under article 121(1A), the civil courts have no jurisdiction if it is a matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.

It must be remembered that article 121(1A) was inserted by section 8(c) of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 1988, which itself has to be read subject to the Federal Constitution (see article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution), i.e. in the present context, subject to the Sixth Schedule to the Federal Constitution. Accordingly, if a Syariah court’s decision infringes a constitutionally protected right of a party, then the civil courts, as guardians of the constitution, may question the same . This will have to be done by way of a judicial review application. It must be noted that the judicial review powers of the High Court are conferred by paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

 It [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 35 must be observed that it is a jurisdiction without any fetter. To avoid any doubt, by section 4 of the Act, the provisions of the Act shall prevail in the event of any inconsistency or conflict between its provision and any other written law (other than the Federal Constitution only). In a judicial review, the court checks the process by which any authority or person in power reached its or his decision. Checking the ‘process of decision making’ does not involve any Islamic law or any matter spelled out in the paragraph 1 to the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution.

It must be emphasised that at a plain reading of paragraph 1 of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution, it contains no jurisdiction similar to that contained in the paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (i.e. the judicial review jurisdiction). Accordingly, the judicial review jurisdiction of the civil courts is not in any way affected by the article 121(1A). Once this point is clear, the next question is whether the judicial review jurisdiction, as conferred by the paragraph 1 to the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, includes a power to so judicially review a decision of the Syariah court. As there is absolutely no fetter to this jurisdiction conferred by the paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, a decision made by a Syariah court is no exception to this jurisdiction. Support for this proposition can in general be found in the judgement of Hamid Sultan JCA, when his Lordship said “[w]hat the civil courts cannot do is to intervene in the lawful decision of the Syariah Courts made within its jurisdiction and not in excess of its jurisdiction.” Conclusion [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 36 Having visited and discussed the plethora of laws, cases, principles and the grounds of Balia Yusof JCA in the instant appeal, with due respect, it is opined that any issue as to validity of conversion is a matter within the jurisdiction of the civil courts, whether the parties to the action are all Muslims / persons professing the religion of Islam or not, which Hamid Sultan JCA said with simplicity as this: “certificate of conversion has nothing to do with the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court”. 8. The second issue


The author having subscribed to the view that the first issue, namely whether the civil courts have jurisdiction to hear the challenge to conversion certificate, must be answered in the affirmative, now moves on to the second issue, namely; whether issuance of the conversion certificates contravened the provisions of the Perak Enactment and thus a nullity and liable to be quashed? It was contended by Indira Ghandi that sections 96 and 106 of the Perak Enactment were not complied with. It must be observed that the basic requirements for conversion are set out in the section 96. In the case of minor children, there are some additional requirements called for by the section 106. In the instant case, the section 96 issue must be considered first. If it is found that section 96 was not complied with, then it would not be necessary to decide if the section 106 additional requirements were satisfied. Under section 96, the intending convert must utter the Affirmation of Faith.

He or she must do so understanding what it means. He or she must do so [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 37 out of his or her own free will. A person incapable of speech may, instead of uttering, convey the Affirmation of Faith in sign language. In the instant case, the two elder children were with Indira Ghandi and it is not disputed that they did not utter the Affirmation of Faith. As far as the youngest child is concerned, it was aged 11 months at the time of the alleged conversion and was with the father. It cannot be, and is not, disputed that the youngest too did not utter the Affirmation of Faith. In fact the conversion was documentarily done by their father and the children had no, and could not have had any, knowledge of it. This is not disputed. It follows that it is not doubted that the section 96, and hence the statutory requirements for conversion, were not complied with. Hence, it is not necessary to consider the additional requirements of parental consent in the section 106. Under section 100 of the Perak Enactment, the convert must apply to the Registrar of Muallaf for registration as a muallaf. If the Registrar is satisfied that the section 96 requirements are satisfied, then he may register the conversion in the Register of Muallaf. Upon such registration, under section 101(1) of the Perak Enactment, the Registrar shall issue a certificate of conversion. In the instant appeal, it is not disputed that the requirements for registration under the section 100 was not satisfied. Accordingly, the Registrar acted in excess of authority and contravention of statute in registering the purported conversion and issuing the certificates of conversion, rendering the certificates thus issued a nullity ab initio (see Badiaddin principle). [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 38 Hamid Sultan JCA so held. However Balia Yusof JCA felt restrained from so holding by section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment which provides that “a certificate of Conversion … shall be conclusive proof of the facts stated in the Certificate.” This calls for a detailed discussion of section 101(2) and its application to the facts of the instant case. At the outset, what did the conversion certificate say? All it said was that the applicants named in the schedule therein (the father and the three children) were registered in the Register of Muallaf. The “original names” of the purported converts. Their “Islamic names”. The “Islamic date” next to each of their Islamic names. The file number next to each of the Islamic dates. The certificate was signed on behalf of the Registrar of Islamic Religious Department of Perak. That was all. The certificate is reproduced in Hamid Sultan JCA’s judgment. The certificates did not say that the children uttered the Affirmation of Faith. The fact that needed to be established by Indira Ghandi, in order to nullify the certificate, was only that the requirements of section 96 was not satisfied, ie, essentially the three children did not utter the Affirmation of Faith and nothing else. This fact was not even disputed. This alone, without more, renders the certificate a nullity ab initio. Purely for academic purposes, hypothetically if the certificate had said (which the certificate did not do) that the purported converts named therein had uttered the Affirmation of Faith, can that fact be challenged? It is opined that even then it can be challenged for the following reasons. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 39

Firstly, when an applicant proves the facts necessary to establish that the certificate is a nullity ab initio, the certificate is legally non-existing. In such case, it does not matter what is stated in the certificate which is legally non-existing, i.e. a nullity. Secondly, in a judicial review application, if a Registrar can hide behind what he himself self-servingly said in the certificate, it will in effect bar any judicial review of the process by which he issued the certificate. Judicial review jurisdiction, conferred on the civil courts (who are guardians of the constitution – in Hamid Sultan JCA’s language, the entrusted supreme policeman of the constitution) by the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (a federal legislation) cannot be ousted by s 101(2) of the Perak Enactment (a state legislation). Reference is made to article 75 of the Federal Constitution which provides that in case of inconsistency between a State law and a Federal law, the latter shall prevail. Thirdly, section 101(2) is inconsistent with section 5 of the Evidence Act 1950 (a Federal legislation) and thus cannot have any effect of overriding section 5.

It must be explained why it is said that section 101(2) is inconsistent with section 5 of the Evidence Act 1950. At the outset, the long title to the Evidence Act 1950 reads “An Act to define the law of evidence”. Sections 2 and 3 of the Act read together delivers the effect that the Act applies to all judicial proceedings before any civil court. Now sections 4 and 5 of the Act must be considered, which are reproduced below: 4. Presumption [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 40 (1) Whenever it is provided by this Act that the court may presume a fact, it may either regard the fact as proved unless and until it is disproved, or may call for proof of it. (2) Whenever it is directed by this Act that the court shall presume a fact, it shall regard the fact as proved unless and until it is disproved. (3) When one fact is declared by this Act to be conclusive proof of another, the court shall, on proof of the one fact, regard the other as proved, and shall not allow evidence to be given for the purpose of disproving it. 5. Evidence may be given of facts in issue and relevant facts Evidence may be given in any suit or proceeding of the existence or nonexistence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant, and of no others.

Explanation--This section shall not enable any person to give evidence of a fact which he is disentitled to prove by the law relating to civil procedure. Section 5 confers the right on a litigant to tender evidence of any fact in issue, subject only to a caveat that a litigant may be debarred from giving such evidence only if a law relating to ‘civil procedure’ disentitles him from so doing. Accordingly, section 101(2) cannot take away that right, unless section 101(2) is a law relating to civil procedure. Section 101 entitled “Conversion Certificate of Conversion to the Religion of Islam” has nothing to do with civil procedure. [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 41 Another exception to the right conferred under the section 5 is found in section 4(3) of the Act. Under section 4(3), when a litigant proves one fact and the Act (the Evidence Act 1950) declares that fact be conclusive proof of another fact, the other party is disallowed from disproving the latter fact deemed to be proved. The Act has so declared proof of one fact to be the conclusive proof of another fact only in two instances, respectively in section 41 in respect of certain judgments and in section 111 in respect of legitimacy of children born during marriage when the couple was in access to each other. Section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment is out of place to gain any exception to the right conferred under section 5 of the Evidence Act. With due respect, Balia Yusof JCA failed to make due observation at the outset of the facts stated in the certificate in holding that section 101(2) rendered the conversion or the certificate unchallengeable. Had his Lordship considered the observations made hereinabove, again with due respect, the result must have been different. Before concluding the discussion on section 101(2), it is pertinent to consider the majority decision of the Court of Appeal in Saravanan Thangathoray V. Subshini Rajasingam & Another Appeal [2007] 2 CLJ 451, which was relied on by Balia Yusof JCA in holding as his Lordship did. In that case, in less than three months after the date of conversion of a husband as stated in the conversion certificate, the wife petitioned for divorce under section 51(1) of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, which reads as follows: 51. Dissolution on ground of conversion to Islam

[2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 42 (1) Where one party to a marriage has converted to Islam, the other party who has not so converted may petition for divorce: Provided that no petition under this section shall be presented before the expiration of the period of three months from the date of the conversion. (emphasis added) The wife having so applied in less than three months after the date of conversion stated in the certificate challenged the ‘date of conversion’ therein. The court, by majority, through application of section 112(2) of the Selangor Enactment, which is in pari materia with section 101(2) of the Perak Enactment, held that the ‘date of conversion’ stated in the certificate was conclusive proof of the ‘date’ and accordingly the wife’s petition was premature. In that case, the certificate of conversion was not challenged, but only the date stated therein. It would have been different if the certificate itself was challenged with the result that the court cannot rely on anything stated in the certificate until the issue of validity of the certificate is first decided. With due respect, that case had no application or relevance to the case of Indira Ghandi, where the conversion itself was challenged from the root, and Balia Yusof JCA, again with due respect, misdirected himself in applying that case to the case before his Lordship. In conclusion, it is opined that the section 101(2) cannot be any bar to Indira Ghandi proving the facts and the process by which the certificate was issued. In the absence of any hindrance by the section 101(2), it cannot

 [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 43 be doubted that there was absolute non-compliance of the section 96, the statutory requirements for conversion, rendering the purported conversion and the certificate a nullity ab initio and liable to be quashed by the court, as did Lee Swee Seng J in the High Court and upheld by the dissenting judge in the Court of Appeal, Hamid Sultan JCA. By now, both the issues due for determination has been considered at length and the reasoned views and opinion have been expressed, namely the matter carried by Indira Ghandi was within the jurisdiction of the civil courts and that the conversion certificates were liable to be quashed. However, that would not suffice to complete this paper, but articles 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution must be discussed, as Balia Yusof JCA also relied on article 12 and discussed article 11 in the course of arriving at the conclusion that his Lordship did. 9. Articles 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution Balia Yusof JCA referred to article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and to the Federal Court decision in Subashini a/p Rajasingam v Saravanan a/l Thangathoray and other appeals [2008] 2 MLJ 147 and made a remark in passing that article 12(4) allows either parent to convert his or her child to the religion of Islam. As rightly pointed out by Hamid Sultan JCA, article 12(4) is housed under the article entitled “Rights in respect of education”. This section has nothing to do with conversion, and it is sad that some decisions have treated the ‘education’ related provision as a ‘conversion’ provision. The difference is not that of an apple and orange but a marble and pumpkin as [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 44 Hamid Sultan JCA well said. It is hoped that the following distinct passage of Hamid Sultan JCA in the instant appeal will put an end to the anathema of misapplying article 12(4) to conversion cases: … Article 12(3) and 12(4) of the Federal Constitution has nothing to do with conversion. It only permits a parent or guardian from deciding the religion of the child for purpose of worship of a religion ... Selecting the religion does not mean the child has been converted. Balia Yusof JCA was of the view that the right of either parent to convert his or her child without consent of his or her spouse was not contrary to article 11 of the Federal Constitution. With due respect, the view cannot be justified. Article 11 reads as follows:

11. Freedom of religion (1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it. “Every person”, what does it mean? It is opined that “person” includes children and there is nothing in the constitution to discriminate against children nor to disregard the fact that children are humans with feelings and legitimate desires too. Although children are subject to parental control, it should not be taken to mean they are slaves (or something near to it) of parents. By virtue of article 11, a child has the right to practice his religion. It is the author’s view that “his” religion here means the religion that he was born under or the religion that he has already been practicing. If either [2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 45 parent (or even both parents) can force a child, say aged 17 and thus still a minor, into any other religion, that would be a step nearer to treating the child as a slave (or something near to it) of either parent (or both parents) as opposed to wards of parents or guardians. This principle is well contained in the Perak Enactment, as like in most other State enactments, that requires not merely the parental consent in cases of conversion of children, but requires that the child himself or herself to voluntarily embrace the religion of Islam. Now returning to the other issue of one parent dealing with religion of the child without the consent of the other parent, a few words must be said.


 If one were to interpret any provision in the law as allowing either parent to decide the religion of their child, that will only create a battle of religions, as the father may select one and the mother another. Accordingly, any law allowing “a parent” to deal with the religion of a child must be construed as meaning “the parents” if they are both alive. Parliament must take due steps to amend the law for the sake of clarity if necessary. Returning to the case at hand, article 12(4) has no application to it precisely for the reasons stated by Hamid Sultan JCA and article 11 would be infringed if the child (a person) is disallowed from practicing “his” religion at the unilateral decision of his parent (or parents). Accordingly, it is opined that the act of the Registrar in issuing the certificates in the instant case, among other matters already discussed at length, also evidences an infringement of article 11. 10. Conclusion

[2016] 1 LNS(A) xvii Legal Network Series 46 Having reviewed the instant case at length thus far, it is now time to write the conclusion to the paper. With due respect, the challenge to the conversion is a matter within the jurisdiction of the civil courts at least for the reason that Indira Ghandi, a legitimate party in the case, was a non-Muslim. The purported conversion was a nullity ab initio at least for non-compliance with section 96 of the Perak Enactment, which is an undisputed fact. Section 101(2) does not help the Appellants in this case in any way at least because the certificate nowhere said that the children uttered the Affirmation of Faith, which was the central fact in issue in this case. It will only be hoped that the precedents created by the majority decision in this case and in a few other alike cases will be corrected by due process of law. ____________________________________________________