SEBERANG PERAI, Feb 14 — A single mother who has been searching for her three children, who were taken away from her by a third party, finally got to meet them at a police station in Perlis today.
Loh Siew Hong, a chef in Genting Highlands, said it was an emotional meeting with her children today after they were taken away and hidden from her by her ex-husband and subsequently a third party since 2019.
“I have not seen them for three years and they were reluctant to follow me initially, they were worried that their father might harm himself in prison if they were to follow me home,” she said in a brief interview with Malay Mail today.
While she wanted to take the children with her the moment she met them at the police station, as she has legal sole custody of the children, she decided to let them be under the care of the Perlis Welfare Department until her habeas corpus application is heard at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 21.
“I didn’t want to further traumatise them but when I talked to them alone again, they were already crying and saying they are willing to go home with me,” she said.
She hoped that on February 21, her children will be brought to the Kuala Lumpur High Court for the habeas corpus decision so that they will finally be reunited.
“I work and live in Genting Highlands so they will be living with me there,” she said.
Loh had lodged a police report, with help from Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy and Tamilar Kural Malaysia president David Marshel, on Saturday claiming that her 14-year-old twin daughters and 10-year-old son were “illegally” taken away from her by a third party affiliated with a religious non-governmental organisation.
Loh had divorced from her husband on March 19, 2019 but at that time, she was hospitalised due to a fractured leg.
“I was recovering from my fractured leg when my ex-husband took my children without my knowledge and hid them,” she said.
She said she could not trace them even after her ex-husband was arrested and sent to jail in Kelantan.
Loh was granted sole custody of the children in March 2021 by the Kuala Lumpur High Court but she was unable to find them.
She had lodged a police report in Bukit Aman in December 2021 to find her children.
“It was only in January this year, when I received a message on Facebook from an unknown person that I realised that the woman has my children,” she said.
She said she had asked the woman to hand her children back to her but the woman had refused.
Loh found out that her children were staying at an Islamic religious hostel in Tasek Gelugor early this month and she immediately rushed there but they were again taken to another place.
After Loh lodged the police report, the woman finally contacted her to meet her and her children in Perlis today.
Satees and David accompanied Loh to the Kangar police headquarters to meet the children.
“Officials from Perlis Welfare Department and Perlis Religious Department were also present in the meeting,” Satees said.
He said the Perlis Religious Department showed documents of the purported conversion of the children.
“The conversion documents were prepared and witnessed by the woman who had been hiding the children from their mother and refused to let her talk to them,” he said.
He said in the meeting this morning, both the police and the Perlis Welfare Department said Loh has sole custody of the children so the children should be with her.
“We held discussions for about an hour and it was decided that the children be placed with a neutral party, the Perlis Welfare Department, until the hearing of the habeas corpus application by Loh on February 21,” he said.
The habeas corpus application Loh file is for the children to be brought to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and be handed back to her as she was granted sole custody.
He said the children have been taken to a home under the welfare department in Kedah and only Loh will have access to the children.
“No other third parties, including the Perlis religious authorities, can have access to the children except for the mother alone,” he said.
Satees said the Perlis police had acted in a professional manner in handling the whole issue by taking over the custody of the children from the third party and handing them over to the Welfare Department pending the habeas corpus application.
This is the latest reported case of children unilaterally converted, despite the landmark decision by the Federal Court in 2019 involving Hindu mother M Indira Gandhi, which requires both parents to consent to a conversion.
The Ipoh mother is however still waiting to be reunited with the youngest of her three children, who was snatched away by the Muslim convert then-husband just before he converted the children and sought child custody rights in the Shariah court.