An end to conversion rows ?

A very good piece of news indeed… and I really got a lift last night when I read it on Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini reported that :


The government today proposed new rules on converting to Islam, in a bid to prevent wrangles that have split families and incited racial tensions in this multicultural country.

“We are working on a law that non-Muslims who are converting to Islam must inform their spouse and family,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said after meeting Islamic religious authorities.

“They will have to fill out a form and declare that they have informed their family of the pending conversion,” he said.

The move follows a series of allegations of “body-snatching” by Islamic authorities, who have seized remains for burial according to Muslim rites, against the objections of non-Muslim family members


This blog has repeated urged the enactment of such as mechanism to prevent not only body snatching incidents such as what the Gan family experienced when the elder Gan passed away in January, but also any misunderstanding or foul play that may be involved in such a conversion.. Please read my post on this in January 2008  : A mechanism or a Law is needed to prevent conversion controversy.

In fact even much earlier, I have written another post on this need of a mechanism for conversion controversy. In June 2007, I have written a post which was also published as a letter in Malaysiakini. I will quote part of the article here for the sake of those who are new to this blog:

After all the letters and views expressed recently in media such as Malaysiakini on the issue of conversion , I suggest that the government should enact a law to inform, as a matter of courtesy and an obligation under the oath of matrimony,  the spouse of a person wishing to convert to Islam. 

This law must specify that when a person converts to Islam, it should be made compulsory to inform his or her spouse and his/her spouse should sign a statement before an officer of law acknowledging that he or she has been informed.

There should also be a period of , say, 2 weeks between informing the spouse and the actual conversion, so that the couple can have a heart to heart discussion on the matter. This is necessary because any conversion will have a direct impact on the spouse regarding the status of children, the inheritance, the burial and so on.

This will avoid a  lot of confusion or misunderstanding like in the case of the Mt Everest climber Moorthy Maniam, a Hindu bybirth but buried as a Muslim in 2005.

 Islamic administration officials”acquired” the body after a headline grabbing tussle for it with Moorthy’swife Kaliammal, saying he had secretly converted to Islam.

Kaliammal disputed the claim and asked the court to declare her husband a Hindu, but the court instead said since one party is a Muslim the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

By making it compulsory to inform the spouse, at least the spouse will be given a choice whether to seek separation from the other party or follow the partner’s path and be converted as well.

I have argued that   if you believe in a certain faith, you should let your family members know and not keep it a secret. What is there to be secretive if you really believe what you do is right?

So, by having such a mechanism, doubtful conversion such as the Gan Eng For incident can be avoided. For those who are not familiar with the case, they can go and view the documents in this link… documents which leave a lot of questions unanswered……

(Pls also look at this picture in this post: How do you feel?)


Another piece of good news is that NST reported today that the PM would be setting up a judicial Commission to decide on the promotion and appointments  of judges. This is also what this blog has been fighting for.

I hope things can be speed-ed up and this Judicial commission would go the way of the proposed IPCMC which was supposed to be set up 4 years ago and which until now, we are still waiting.

If the government has been doing all these during the past few years, it would have won itself more votes and support and the 12 GE results would be much different.

Well, it is still not too late. Institute reforms such as ICAC, overhaul the civil service, reform the education system, bring back the glory to our universities and judiciary, give more freedom to the expression of opinion, allow more press freedom, do away with ISA, release the Hindraf 5, reform the police and the Election Commission, bring back the local government elections, give fairer treatment to all,  etc etc…If  the government is able to do all these in the next few months , I am sure they would get back the support that they lost.



33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andrew chuah
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 12:58:16

    This is not good enough as many converted to Islam either to take more wives or for economic benefits.


  2. H'ng Khoon Leng
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 13:04:06

    The form is just another piece of paper prepared by Islamic religious authorities. A declaration by the pending convert is not enough, it doesn’t ensure that the spouse/parents/guardian or next of kin is/are actually aware of the pending conversion – the potential convert can declared that he have informed the relevant relative but it may not be true.

    Detail see


  3. Dr Hsu
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 13:28:10

    H’ng, you have a point there. the government must really ensure that the spouse has been informed. Perhaps it can be done in front of a lawyer or a commissioner of oath. The form must bear the signature of the spouse/family members and the lawyer/commissiner of oath.

    There must also be a cooling off period of at least 2 weeks for the family members to discuss the conversion before the actual conversion can be done.

    But at least this is a good beginning.


  4. malayamuda
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 14:28:47

    why was this not enforced as early as 2005 ? why only now…….. however i dont think it’s enough.

    we must see the motives why one is embracing islam. is it to get contracts and other special priviledges or does the person genuinely wants to embrace islam.

    we dont people to make a mockery of anothers religion just for economic gains


  5. Peter Yew
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 15:32:54

    The suggestion by PM is too simplistic and does not take into consideration potential difficulties arising such as refusal of the non-converting spouse to convert together (if I am not wrong Islam requires the spouse of a Muslim to convert), property distribution, conversion of children and objection from non-converting spouse. The piece of paper merely prove that the person has informed the family but does not help resolve the greater problems as I stated above. The government should look at the ramifications rather than just stop there.


  6. antasari
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 16:08:37

    the person who wants to convert should take a full-page ad in a reputable national newspaper.


  7. pemuda7
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 16:12:47

    Mr. Peter Yew…I’m appreciate ur view…i think if u don’t know exactly about conversion as i see u said; if i am not wrong…better u consult ur muslim friend…for better knowledge also can help u more understand about islam itself…tq


  8. Death Note
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 16:48:01

    I definitely do not agree it is a solution.

    cause that is not the problem



    In fact, Malaysia is really backward to have race and religions in application forms…
    religion is between me and God alone. Nobody else.

    By requiring people to register and make a public claim about their religion is akin to systematic discrimination.

    There are many circumstances around… maybe i’m not really in a good relationship with my family etc…

    you know…
    the problem is not about notifying the family or not…

    “uhh… now we must make them notify their family so that we won’t have problems later”

    like this…

    “uhh… now we must make them notify their family so that we won’t have problems later… WHEN WE DO THE BODY SNATCHING!!”


    They are actually saying something akin to…
    “Please label your belongings… so I know it’s yours, and won’t steal it. But if no label… maybe it’s public etc, i will steal it”


    Seriously, if you subject someone who wants to convert to a specific religion to some targetted rule… we might as well put them in concentration camps…

    I found out a blog that a prominent political blogger (calls himself, the mahaguru58, and menj) made remarks that…
    “if non-muslim worry so much about being body-snatched, they should tattoo on their bodies i am not muslim”


    Why don’t muslims tattoo themselves instead??



    the problem is not about confusing muslims/nonmuslims…

    it’s about body-snatching!!


  9. art harun
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 17:19:53

    Dear Dr Hsu,

    My thoughts on the matter is at my blog:

    Thank you.


  10. chand
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 17:26:50

    It is not enough to inform your family. The Islamic dept should inform the family and ensure that the converting party has fulfilled
    all his obligations to his family being allowed to convert.
    He/she should also be tested on his knowledge of Islam before conversion to ensure that the conversion is genuine love of the religion.


  11. Dia saje betul
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 20:38:56

    Tak pernah puas

    Maybe you also need to check on marriage for convenience ( old apek with good looking and young taiwan/china lady)


  12. ratormo
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 21:49:49

    Dr. Hsu, don’t be too happy yet. This filp-flop government only propose some new rules for conversion. whether it will happen or whether it will be enforce properly is yet to be seen…


  13. bicentinary
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 00:30:32

    The thing is we put our currency with $, back in 1970 when Rs was fixed with $ it was good where dollar appreciates rupee appreciates but due to Late Zulfiqar ali Bhttu it was decided that we manage our Rupee with Dollar, you will see the beaviour of This phenomenon in Exchange Rates, what i think because of this mistake we are highly bound by influence of $ as a result our Stock Market Collasped many time since March 2005, to gove profit to only four people…. any how we must adopt Malaysia policy led by Dr. Mahataer muhammad that is to maintain currency with Euro


  14. monsterball
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 00:40:30

    The above have said it all.
    The root of our problem is our government does not believe in freedom of religions…….for the Malays.


  15. romerz
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 00:48:20

    Dr Hsu,

    I’m afraid I disagree with you that the form must bear the signature of the spouse/family members.

    By insisting that the form contains the signatures of the spouse/family members, inadvertently you are giving them the power to agree or not to the intended convert’s wishes. This too is not desirable as it is an infringement of one’s right to choose.

    I also can’t offer a better solution but agree that notification of a person’s conversion to those directly affected is a step in the right direction to prevent misunderstanding.

    How this can be done fairly and effectively I have no idea.


  16. romerz
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 00:59:21

    Mr Yew,

    I’m not so sure on whether there exist a law requiring the spouse of a Muslim to be a Muslim as well.

    I say this because I have a Muslim friend whose wife is a Christian, unless they are breaking the law without being caught yet.

    All was well and fine until they had a child. The father wanted the child to a Muslim from birth but the wife wanted the child to decide on his own when he reached 18.

    Naturally they fought over this issue and I came to know about it when both confided in me their disagreement.

    In the end, the wife relented and they are still a happy family today.

    What I’m trying to say is the state should stop being guardians of faiths and leave people to choose as they please. Anything forced on people will only bring chaos and disharmony.


  17. jeff
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 01:04:47

    Malaysia islamic terrorist affair department is the root cause of all these horrible experience a non muslim Malaysian has to face, they fabricate fake document on the deceased religion faith, even his own children or spouse has lesser right over this act of barbarian from those hateful mullahs in that department, very typical umnoputra government appointee.


  18. Stushie
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 01:27:59

    I hope that this law is available for everyone who makes a conversion from one religion to another. If a Muslim wanted to become a Christian or a Christian wanted to become a Hindu, there should be no barriers.

    True Conversion takes place in the heart, anyway. A forced conversion is no covnersion at all. It only validates what the enforcer wants and becomes spiritual abuse.


  19. iamyuanwu
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 04:00:32

    Even if BN do all the right things and won my support, I’d still vote the other way. There’s simply no way I can forget the magnitude of their arrogance and ego after winning big in 2004. Letting them win big again means 2004 all over again. No no no no no no no no……
    I prefer to keep them on their toes all the time.

    But I agree that late is better than never.

    Telling him to ‘consult his Muslim friends’ sounds like asking him to shut-up while no explanation is offered. I’m sure you don’t mean it that way. But somehow come across that way to me.

    In any case, I’m also not familiar about conversion to Islam and it’s technicalities/requirements. I –I mean everyone– would appreciate it if you could explain a bit more?


  20. Dr Hsu
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 09:25:41

    romerz. you have a very good point there which I have not thought of.

    If someone really believes in a religion and wishes to convert, and the spouse refuses to acknowledge that he or she has been informed, then that is a real infringement on freedomof religion and individual rights.

    There must be a better mechanism than a form. Anyone who cares to give some suggestions on how this can be done properly without too much of a loophole?


  21. Peter Yew
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 22:44:02

    Romerz, in this country whoever that marries a Muslim must convert. I don’t know if it is a law but certainly it is a practice that is imposed, like the non-Muslim is ‘forced’ to change religion. I personaly think it is terribly unfair and wrong. Maybe love is stronger that the non-Muslim feels obligated to convert. However, conversion brings about a host of difficulities, some of which are already well publicized, like Muslim burial and property distribution. What is not so well publicized is the automatic conversion of the children. Here it gives no choice to the children to choose their faith and I believe again it is terribly unfair because most of us agree that faith is personal and some people may decide to leave a faith and join another because he or she feels the faith he first believed in was not to his liking or to his belief. Just like we have a right to return good bought for refund or exchange (a western practice but becoming very much our urban culture now) we also need the same freedom to choose. Sometimes we choose a faith because we were convinced by someone or a book. Later we encounter another experience that make us review that faith. In short, I wholly support the idea that we should be allowed to switch in and out of any faith and not be bound by legal conditions.

    Dr Hsu, I think the form solution is skirting the surface, it cannot solve the deep seated problems and suspicion. I would feel insecured and betrayed if my spouse convert because that decision does not stop there. It will ramificate into my life and that is not what I am prepared to accept. The Inter-Religious Council, if set up, must find a solution to satisfy people of all faith. Ultimately, I believe there must be a need to respect each other’s faith and not allow one faith to dominate over another’s.


  22. VJ
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 23:10:36

    u know what’s the solution to avoid all these hussle in conversion …? That is “not to convert ” in the first place . Instil this value strongly into our children . This apply in particular for non-muslims .


  23. monsterball
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 23:45:01

    Yes…..simply free the Islamic religion…from being compulsory to Malays.
    Our country has double standards in religions and race.
    Promoting the Islamic religion….with thousands of mosques…in every corner of our country….trying so hard to make Malays be proud of the said religion…..and yet…use it for politics… simply a hypocritical play act… by UMNO….to control and win votes from the Malays. Problem is….it was a huge success for UMNO…all those past years….and they keep ignoring the blunt fact…people’s minds are controlled….that’s evil and sinful…. but now Malays can understand and read others opinions………which shows clearly…..UMNO is insincere…..all these 50 years
    Constitutions should be amended… be really free in everything.
    Sure…all Malaysians are happy for a more open minded government…like…..something better than nothing… from Dollah now.
    But anything not done with total sincerity..will have few flaws……like all the above commentators are arguing about.
    Like I said….in commercial firms…..we do not find solutions. We find PERMANENT every problem….that is serious…and religion. is deade serious!! It needs clearly to be free for all Malays…to choose any religion they like. Only when they proudly call themselves Malaysians………….can they understand how precious freedom is.
    Here again….UMNO keeps treating every Malay… a child……need to be spoon fed….even now….50 years old……shaming the well educated children of their parents.
    And when you have a selfish and evil plot………nothing can be fair….so Malays are now greatly divided.
    All must be Malaysians first!! So easy…….yet took 50 years… to divide and rule. That’s the main problem of the government.
    Frankly speaking….as long as UMNO is ruling…they will not change…for changing means….they are dead…and now not changing…also dying. MCA and Gerakan can see it now want to play watch dog role. What a joke!! Watch out….MCA and Gerakan start winning Chinese hearts by going against UMNO in the near future. These two balless and racialistic parties are dead….ever so clear……in these 28 yeas or so….not like before Mahathir’s premiership. No use to talk of these l people….shaming their own race.
    Let it be.
    Future is very bright for real freedom of everything. Malaysians will make it happen.


  24. jane abraham
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 23:53:11

    If they can revert to Islam why aren’t we?

    European Scientist converts to Islam

    British Catholic Priest Reverted To Islam


  25. jeff
    Apr 13, 2008 @ 00:38:15

    Unless those islamic mullahs in government agency stop violating non muslim Malaysians’ freedom of religion right and get educated this is not Saudi Arabia or Iran, those islamic extremists will continue to cause trouble in Malaysia since they believe they will be rewarded doing so by their religion, n receive no reprimand from this weak P.M. It is a total lack of leadership in the government in dealing with rising religious extremism contributed to continue body snatching.


  26. bow
    Apr 13, 2008 @ 08:14:26

    End of body snatching row! dream on Dr. Hsu, this is Malaysia, not Singapore hahaha..


  27. Death Note
    Apr 13, 2008 @ 23:40:39

    the solution,
    is to disband the body-snatching agencies.

    sorry. not feasible in stubborn malaysia. but real solution. no play play one.


  28. Penang
    Apr 14, 2008 @ 00:39:52

    I have but only one question —

    You guys were the government before. You guys supposed to have the *INSIDE TRACK* of the government.

    How come you guys are now claiming that you guys have to “urge the government” on issues such as the “Appointment of judges” and the “Notification to family before conversion to Islam”?

    Weren’t you guys the same ones who were telling us, the people, that you guys “KNOW THE WAY TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS”??

    Please stop lying.

    Please, man !!!

    It’s just too late for your petty lies.

    You guys never fought for what is right. You guys were only looking out for your own benefits.


  29. romerz
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 01:57:06

    Dear Penang,

    I will try to answer your question as best I can but please understand that I am not a member of any political party nor was I politically active until recently – to be precise, 9 March 2008.

    I will categorize my answers as follow:-

    1. FEAR

    I was 9 years old in 1969, old enough to remember the fear in my parent’s eyes but not old enough to understand what had happened and why it happened. It was only at about the age of 16/17 that I understood my parent’s fears but 7/8 years had passed and nothing untoward had happened to me or my family (as far as I could see).

    It was only when I went to UK in 1977 when I found that there were many Malaysian students there who were critical of things back home. But each time I came home for my summer holidays, no criticisms were ever reported in the newspapers nor were there anyone coming up to me to say “hey, this country of ours is screwed-up”. If it was said at all, it would be preceded with a “ssshhhhh”.

    It was then that I realized one cannot speak their mind freely because by doing so, we may upset those who number more than us and bring back those fears that our parents went through.

    20+ years later, each time I want to speak out about an injustice I hear a tiny scared voice inside my brain still whisper “are you sure you want to do this?”


    Why rock the boat when I could come back home after my studies and pursue a career? My parents no longer had fear in their eyes and I could earn my own money to spend on girls (which at that time were of utmost importance) and basically afford the lifestyle of a bachelor.

    Responsibility to society was the furthest thing on my mind. I was young, independent, and had the world at my feet, so I thought. In my eyes, I was invincible and what I wanted of my ‘material’ future was in my own hands.

    I had not developed yet my ‘conscience and awareness’ of guilt that what I had then, came from the sacrifices of others whom I didn’t even know.

    Somehow, ‘everything will work out well tomorrow’ manifested in my mind. There will be others BUT NOT ME who will put it right.

    (Complacency can be equated to selfishness)


    As I started to tire of my bachelor lifestyle, I started to look elsewhere for a ‘meaning’ to my existence and opened my eyes to places away from my immediate surroundings.

    I saw that my country was not doing so well after all, if we compare human rights, justice and fair-play, and the never ending ‘toe the line or else’.

    So I started to seek those whom I thought shared my misgivings and I found them all around me. Many saw what I saw and many agreed that it was not right and told me so in no uncertain terms of that but whenever I asked, “then what should we do?”, the answers were very much the same, “aya, what can we do? If they don’t want to listen, there’s very little we can do! Just tolerate it lo. Better to have peace and stability than cause trouble”. (Back to the fear part)

    So I thought, since it’s futile anyway, better to spend the rest of my life looking after my parents and now wife as well, and give them no reasons to fear for their well-being. To shield them, as best as I can, even if it means sacrificing my self-dignity, and in so doing, my worth as a Man and as a loyal Malaysian.


    In all honesty, I do not know how to answer you. My credentials do not lend support to what I’m saying should happen now.

    All I can say is that those ‘braver’ to what I’ve been, has given me an opportunity to correct my FEARS, COMPLACENCY and my perception of FUTILITY to make amends NOW.

    And I intend to make full use of it, late as it may be. It is easy to be brave when you’re not in the frontline! (ashamedly said).

    For all its worth, I’ve opened up to you and all the readers here about my aspirations and fears. I maybe a lot of things but being dishonest have never been part of me.

    I may have told you what you perceive as lies but I told myself more lies! All for the sake of others who mean more to me than myself.

    I’m sorry for being human!


  30. jeff
    Apr 16, 2008 @ 04:43:46

    As far as islamic state is concerned, many here will like to convert into it since there are so many privileges and goodies come with the conversion including having 4 wives, but snatch a non muslim corpse is down right lowest demeanor the follower of this religion ever done in Malaysia.


  31. monsterball
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 23:05:59

    UMNO have made a mockery of almost everything….since Mahathir took over and manage for 22 years. His cunningness…totally insincere man…a thick skinned actor…daylight robber..have deeply rooted into millions of Malaysians….to who you know…and not what you know. He is racialist…was a dictator…yet behaving like he loves all Malaysians..which is his biggest bullshit of all. He does not even love his own race sincerely….but himself…his families…and those who will submit and treat him like a King.
    All other races…accepted that Malays needed special help and privileges…but from day one of Merdeka….all other races knew UMNO intended to control his own race with the ridiculous religion control.over his own race….cannot be anything…..but a Muslim.
    “Who cares”.. we the silent opinions of other races……..until…more and more laws and rules..are restricting other Malaysians from other religions…to be free.
    Mahathir..the smartest malay could have use his be the greatest PM of all times…to stop controlling the Malays….yet he idd not…but went further..divided them……into have and have not…..thus applying….divide and rule….as a Dictator.
    So…..what is there to so happy about??…when the truth of it all is that…UMNO loves a dis-organized country…dis-united people…to continue ruling??
    What are being done by 25 years too late…and doing it..out of no choice..but trying to win back Malaysian votes.
    Win votes…right or wrong ways,.does not matter.. All it matters…is a Malay voter is happy with UMNO and vote for them.
    UMNO have lost all it’s so call good image….. loosing 5 States to the oppositions. Voters do not buy them anymore.
    I don’t think UMNO is sincere now. It is at denial stage…choosing poor Dollah as the sacrificial lamb. And with all that are going on now….and after the election….one would expect Dollah be brave enough …to free all Malays completely……by saying…..they are free to choose any religion……and he should put this important subject… amend the out-dated Constitution.
    Problem with UMNO politicians….they will use the 50 year old out-dated….Constitutions that favors play race and religion politics…to shut opposition’s mouths…and oppositions are no fools to fight on this important matter..and loose out on Parliament sittings.
    I am confident…majority Malays are very open minded on religion…..not like before..little upset….take out kris…like want to kill somebody…if we don’t shut up! Those days are over. Hussein tried it….to arouse Malays into a frenzy state of mind. Now that coward…braggart .good for nothing minister…have again twist it to was harmless gestures. Well…if so…MCA would have won seats…..and UMNO won’t suffer such a great loss.
    Enough is enough….from the voters to UMNO and BN…..yet…no signs……UMNO have changed for the better….except trying hard to fool Malaysians again and again..
    We can all sum up….UMNO can never rule …..if Malaysians are all united. They must “ROJAK” the country…to succeed….keep playing ….race and religion politics. That’s all they know…as some of them are taxi drivers…farmers…teachers…low class dentist..all decorated with great titles…like Tun….Tan Sri…to look and act smart….but they mostly not qualified ….to manage the country.
    Choosing the worst legal be the Chief Justice by Mahathir…sum up most…what UMNO was and still is..
    Now..lets watch the Police in action.


  32. steven
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 04:51:36

    Actually it is official corpse snatching or stealing, which make it appalling to every civil society n moderate faithful. How such a government agency can continue to operate with impunity in a self proclaimed moderate country is deceptive at best.


  33. monsterball
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 11:02:18

    At last Pak Lah is doing something good…..admitting UMNO was wrong to sack the 6 judges…and in particular…Tun Salleh Abbas.
    Now….that’s real good news……and we are so happy to see..Tun Salleh is alive…to see his prayers are all answered. God bless this wonderful judge…who did help Kelantan in no small ways…yet all forgotten too.


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