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RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES IN MALAYSIA

HOME I N T RO D U C T I O N R I G H T S I N M A L AYS I A REFLECTION JOURNAL

Article 11 : Freedom of Religion

Can parents decide what their children's religion are? 

According to Section 2 of the Age of Majority Act 1971, whoever below the age of 18 years shall be considered a minor. So, can a
child who is still a minor, decide on his/her own religion without his/her parents's consent? 

In past cases such as the case of Teoh Eng Huat v. Kadhi of Pasir Mas Kelantan, also known as the Susie Teoh case, Susie Teoh
converted into a Muslim when she was 17 years and 8 months old. Her father, Teoh Eng Huat, a Buddhist brought a case against
the Jabatan Agama in the state of Kelantan. This case was brought to the court twice, to claim that Susie Teoh's conversion to
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Islam was made without his consent as her parent, and should be null and void. In the rst proceeding, the High Court held/ that
a minor/infant has the right to choose her own religion if it is done at her own free will. Later, when Teoh Eng Huat appealed to
the Supreme Court, the decision of the High Court was overruled and it was held that a minor can only choose their own religion
with their parent's or guardian's permission. However, Susie Teoh had already reached the age of majority by the time the
Supreme Court made their ruling and therefore, she had her rights to choose her own religion based on the Article 11 of Federal
Constitution of Malaysia. 

In another case of Chang Ah Mee v. Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam, Majlis Agama Islam Sabah & Ors, the infant's father
converted into Muslim and he converted the infant into Muslim without Chang Ah Mee's consent who was his wife then. After
she divorced him and the child custody was given to her, she brought the matter of her child's conversion to Islam to the court.
The court held that the conversion of religion of a minor shall be agreed by both parents. The court then held that Chang Ah Mee
had the right to decide on her child's religion since she was given the child custody, which contradicted with itself by giving the
right to decide the conversion of religion to a parent instead of both parents.

As a conclusion, parents can decide on their children's religion given if their children have not reached the age of majority and
children have the right to choose their religion as stated in Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution only if they have reached the
age of majority which is eighteen years old.

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