KUCHING: The law is silent on matters of conversion out of Islam, said Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, adding that this is why Muslim converts wishing to leave the religion face a difficult battle.
Speaking to the Borneo Post, Baru said the lower civil courts (High Court and Court of Appeal) and Syariah Court also face this dilemma as there are no laws to say they have the power to hear such cases or make decisions.
Baru said this outside the Federal Court earlier this week where he was representing three applicants who applied to convert out of Islam as they were no longer practising Muslims.
“The fact of this is that the High Court and the Court of Appeal had refused to hear applications (of the three appellants) saying they have no jurisdiction and that power is in the Syariah Court.
“Our argument is that the Syariah Court should make decisions. That is why the applicants are in limbo. The judges even said, ‘We can’t help you’”.
Baru said since the Syariah Court has stated it has no power to order Muslims to denounce the faith, let alone for Muslim converts to leave the religion, the residual power should rest with the High Court.
“This issue is constitutional under Article 128 (of the Federal Constitution). If it is constitutional, then power should rest with the High Court,” he said.
The three cases are set to be landmark cases as they are being brought to the Federal Court for the first time.
The Federal Court granted Baru leave of application to hear arguments on the question of whether power of the Syariah Court to hear applications of Muslim converts to convert out of Islam is implied in the state’s Syariah Ordinance.
The court has yet to fix a date for the hearing of the appeals filed by Jenny Peter alias Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah, Mohd Syafiq Abdullah alias Tiong Choo Ting, and Salina Abdullah. -FMT