KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul has admitted yesterday that the state had unilaterally converted three underaged children of Loh Siew Hong without her knowledge nor presence.
Mohd Asri said the children’s father had brought the children to be converted at the Perlis Religious Department in July 2020 without knowing the mother’s whereabouts, and the department had taken his word for it.
“When asked where their mother was, the father said he didn’t know. He wanted to request that his children become Muslim. So the religious department registered them as Muslim. They weren’t registered at the National Registration Department.
“Their father brought them. We didn’t research where their mother was. Their father said he did not know where their mother was, so we let them become Muslim,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook yesterday.
Yesterday, Loh had sent a letter of demand to the Islamic councils in three states to provide written proof that she consented to the religious conversion of her three young children who were raised as Hindus.
Lawyer Shamsher Singh Thind, who is representing Loh, said the three religious councils of Perlis, Kedah and Penang have been given seven days starting February 16 to provide the documents proving she had consented to their conversion.
Asri also said the Perlis religious authorities were not aware that the Kuala Lumpur High Court had granted Loh full custody of her children in March 2021. At the time, the children were in Perlis.
He said the children had been brought to Perlis before the court’s letter on the matter “reached their hands”.
“The court letter was between her and her husband, it wasn’t addressed to us.”
“The children were converts, the father was in jail, so we took care of them. Then we heard that someone wanted to take them. We continued looking after them … because we didn’t know about the court order,” he said.
However, Asri said the father was jailed for drug offences several months after their conversion that the Perlis religious authorities had no qualms with handing over the children to Loh, if that was what they wanted.
“If they want to return to their mother, we have no problem. The problem is that the children don’t want to,” he said.
The video showed Asri being asked to comment on the matter as it courted controversy and criticisms from several quarters.
The Perlis mufti denied any wrongdoings on his part, instead accused “DAP, activists and the media” of playing up the issue.
Yesterday, Bernama reported her meeting with her three children at a welfare institution under the Perlis Social Welfare Department yesterday, according to the Women, Family And Community Development (KPWKM) Ministry.
In a statement, KPWKM said the meeting took place in the afternoon.
On Monday, Malay Mail reported Loh, a single mother who has been searching for her three children, who were taken away from her by a third party.
Loh said her children were taken from her after she had divorced from her husband on March 19, 2019 at the same time she was hospitalised due to a fractured leg.