Hanipa: Conversion of minors must be done with parental consent, says constitution

Former deputy law minister Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said that conversion of any individual below the age of 18 must obtain parental consent since it is provided for Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.

“While Islam may have its own view on the conversion of underage non-Muslims to Islam under hukum syarak, Muslims in this country, however, have a constitutional duty to adhere to and respect Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, which provides for parents or guardians to determine the religion of a person below the age of 18.

“The relevant provision reads: “For the purposes of Clause (3), the religion of a person under the age of 18 shall be decided by his parent or guardian.”

“While our courts seem to have different opinions in construing the term “parent” in Article 12(4) as to whether it should be interpreted as plural or singular, the fact remains that any conversion of a person under 18 must obtain parental consent. Period!

“Apart from Article 12(4) of our apex law, Section 5 of the Guardianship of Infants Act equally provides, inter alia, the consent of parents in the upbringing of minors.

He said this in a commentary piece published in Malaysiakini.

Hanipa who is also a practising lawyer that reminded that all Malaysians, be it Muslims and non-Muslims are subject to the Federal Constitution.

He said this in light of a controversy created by Chinese Muslim convert preacher Firdaus Wong Wai Hung via TikTok.

Wong shared methods that can be used to convert school going non-Muslim minors.

This led to human rights groups such as the Global Human Rights Federation to raise an alarm over such underhanded tactics.

Lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan also echoed Hanipa’s stand and said that Wong was instigating people.

“In other words, Firdaus is encouraging people to do something illegal.

“Just imagine someone openly telling others to commit rape and murder.

“It’s a very disgusting and low-class thing to do,” he said, reported The Scoop.

“What Firdaus said may also be seditious, and action can be taken under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948,” Rajesh added.

Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow meanwhile said that Firdaus’ attempts to distinguish between legal and spiritual conversions are wrong.

Tan added that attempting to influence a minor to embrace another religion, albeit only spiritually, amounts to abuse.

Given that such things only happen in schools, relevant authorities should take action immediately, he added.

“There should be no such thing as only converting spiritually, as there shouldn’t be any conversion at all in the first place.

“Plus, on Firdaus’ statement that other religions do it too, I don’t see any conversions going on in missionary schools, as students who go there still maintain their faith.

“A school isn’t the place to do missionary work,” Tan said