Islamic Council Claims Body of Deceased In Controversial Conversion to Islam

Remains of Muslim convert released to religious council

SEREMBAN: The remains of a 74-year-old man whose widow and seven children had no knowledge of his conversion to Islam was yesterday released to the state Islamic religious council for burial.

Syariah Court judge Mohd Nadzri Abdul Rahman in his ex-parte judgment said Gan Eng Gor, whose Muslim name was Amir Gan Abdullah, was a Muslim based on the testimony by officers from the council and his oldest child Abdul Rahman Gan Abdullah.

Eng Gor’s widow, Chua Chun, and the couple’s seven other children were not present in court yesterday.

On Monday, the council, the state religious department and Abdul Rahman Gan filed an application at the Syariah Court to support their claim that Eng Gor had embraced Islam on July 3, 2007.

They filed the application as Chua and her seven other children had refused to allow the council to take away Eng Gor’s body from a funeral parlour for burial.

Earlier in the day, Eng Gor’s son Hock Lim on behalf of the family applied for an injunction from the High Court requesting that the Syariah Court deferred its decision on Eng Gor’s religious status.

High Court judge Datuk Azhar Ma’ah then told the family that he would only make a decision after hearing the views of the Islamic affairs council, Abdul Rahman and second plaintiff Shasainie Siau Abdullah. The Syariah Court delivered its decision at 11am.

At 6.10pm the family was told the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/1/25/courts/20122214&sec=courts

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From the Associated Press

Malaysia: Buddhist Family Loses Legal Tussle Over Dead Man’s Faith In Muslim Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A Malaysian court on Tuesday (29 Jan) rejected a petition to have a dead man declared a Buddhist after he was buried as a Muslim in the latest interfaith dispute to rock this multiethnic nation.

The High Court in southern Seremban state rejected the petition by the late Gan Eng Gor’s family, saying it had no jurisdiction on the matter since he had already been declared a Muslim by an Islamic Shariah court, the family lawyer, Tan Foong Luen, told The Associated Press.

Gan, an ethnic Chinese, was given an Islamic burial last Thursday (24 Jan) by his eldest son, a Muslim convert, who won custody of the body after getting the Shariah Court’s approval. The rest of the family insisted Gan had never converted, saying he had suffered two strokes and couldn’t even speak at the time of the alleged conversion.

“At least (the high court) should listen to our concerns first before making a decision,” Gan’s younger son, Gan Hock Ming, told The Associated Press. “This will set a precedent … This has a big impact for non-Muslims.”

Hock Ming said the family was undecided on the next step, but would probably try to seek redress in the Court of Appeals or in a Federal Court.

Such cases are becoming common in Malaysia, straining the society’s racial fabric and increasing tensions between the minorities and Malay Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population.

Malaysia has a dual court system _ civil courts for non-Muslims and Shariah courts for Muslims. The law is unclear on how to deal with cases where jurisdiction overlaps. But non-Muslims, who include ethnic Chinese and Indians, say civil courts are becoming increasingly reluctant to challenge Islamic courts and Islamic bureaucrats.

Most often, the Shariah courts have the final word.

In a separate case with religious overtones, a teacher in the northern state of Perak was reprimanded for forcing six Hindu schoolboys to shave their mustaches and beards, which they were growing for a religious ritual this month, The Star newspaper reported Tuesday. The boys were also asked by the teacher to remove their religious wristbands.

The Star newspaper quoted State Education Director Hussain Harun as saying the teacher was enforcing school regulations that require students to be clean shaven and not wear any ornaments.

But he acknowledged that the teacher had been insensitive to the students’ feelings, The Star said.

“If need be, the teacher would have to apologize … for hurting their feelings by being insensitive to their religious and cultural needs,” The Star quoted Hussain as saying. “The best way is to ask for their forgiveness.”

Hussain and school officials could not immediately be reached, and the education officer investigating the case declined to comment. (By JULIA ZAPPEI/ AP)

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A letter from Gan Eng Gor’s daughter-in-law posted on 2008/1/26 in her blog http://hsiauchuen.wordpress.com/

Justice and Fair play for the family of Gan Eng Gor
January 26, 2008, 10:49 pm
Filed under: life

Justice and Fair play for the family of Gan Eng Gor (deceased)

1. Our father was seventy four (74) years old. He suffered a severe stroke in 2006. He was as immobilized,bedridden, mentally unsound, cannot speak, partially deaf and has very poor vision.

2. We transferred him to stay with one of our brothers in Klang. Our aged mother looked after, bathed andfed him. She also helped to look after our nephews and nieces.

3. Our father died on 20th Jan 2008. As Gan Hock Seng (the eldest son) is a member of the family, we informed him of our father’s death. He was then told us that our father is a muslim, we were shocked and did not believed him. So we continue to perform the wake service as our father have never led a muslim life. The Majlis Agama officers came and attempted to snatch the dead body, all our family members more shocked and angry, we resisted and strongly protested against the removal of our father’s body.

4. We obtained his alleged conversion papers from Majlis Agama the second day.

5. We were advised by our solicitors that there are serious irregularities in the said conversion papers especially the Declaration of Conversion into Islam.

a). The declaration was before a Pegawai Ukhuwah. His rubber stamp was on the paper but that officer did not sign.

b). Further there was no signatory at the certification column.

c). There was an illegal alteration on the date to 3rd July 2007.

d). The thumb print was questionable as we are certain that our deceased father was in Klang and not at the address No. 451, Taman Megaway, 70400 Sikamat, Seremban as stated in the application form.

e). His address stated in the Borang Perakuan Memeluk Islam is No: 1272, Jalan TBK 6/2, Taman Bkt Kepayang, 70200 Seremban, the residence of the eldest son. We wish to state that our father has never resided at this address.

f). The Majlis Agama Authorities claimed that our deceased father made an oral declaration in Arabic accepting the Muslim faith. Our family has medical confirmations from three doctors that our father was unable to speak.

g). We were asked to appear before the Syariah Court Seremban, we believe the Syariah Court is for Muslims only.

h). We refused to attend at the Syariah Court on a matter of principle as non-Muslims. We refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

i). The Syariah Court made a unilateral declaration that our father is a Muslim and is to be buried in accordance to Muslim rites.

j). We filed an application at the High Court Seremban to adjudicate on the validity, authenticity, veracity and legality of the conversion paper especially the declaration of acceptance into Islam.

k). The High Court Seremban dismissed our application on the ground that he has no jurisdiction to hear this matter as the subject matter falls within the purview of the Syariah Court. We beg to differ.

l). We were indeed shocked and aggrieved at the simplistic way the High Court disposed off this matter. We only seek justice, fair play and to find out the truth on his alleged conversion.

10. The eldest son Gan Hock Seng converted to Islam years ago. Our father and mother had strenuously opposed his conversion.

11. This eldest son had allegedly converted our father without the knowledge of our other and all other seven siblings.

12. Further, the eldest son had NEVER taken care of him physically and financially. He hardly visited him too.

13. Even if the eldest son had converted our father, we like to ask :

i). Why is it that he did not take care of him and brought him to stay in his house to lead a Muslim life?

ii). Why did he allow our father to continue living in a non-muslim home in Klang ? Our father had never prayed and continued eating pork and other non-halal food. He never revealed to anyone that he has converted to Islam.

iii). Why he as a Muslim, did not ensure that our father (if he had been indeed converted) led a Muslim life ?

iv). Why is it that the Agama Islam authorities did not visit and follow up with our father – the alleged new convert, after his conversion?

14. We believe we have been unfairly treated by our eldest brother and the Agama Islam authorities in this alleged conversion of our father. If there had been a conversion, we firmly believe that the Agama Islam authorities should have informed all members of the family. There should not be a fight over the body of dead person. There should be dignity and respect on the dead person.

15. We hope the PM and the higher ups in the Islamic Authorities review this case and to ensure that the truth is unraveled. We hope that all conversions to Islam is fair and transparent and made known to all the next of kin of the convert.

We Seek Justice, Fair play and Truth in this matter.

From,

Gan Hok Ming for and on behalf of the family members of Gan Eng Gor (deceased)

Date: 25th January 2008

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Earlier Report

Monday January 21, 2008
The STAR Online
Eldest son claims dead father was a Muslim

SEREMBAN: Police yesterday took away the remains of a 74-year-old man from a Chinese funeral parlour near here after his eldest son claimed that the deceased was a Muslim.

Abdul Rahman Gan Abdullah, 47, who had embraced Islam several years ago, lodged a report at the Seremban 2 police station claiming that his father, Gan Eng Gor, had converted to Islam on July 3 last year and had taken the name Amir Gan Abdullah.

When met at the funeral parlour, one of Eng Gor’s eight other children, Hock Sin, said the family was shocked to hear of this.

“When my father died this morning in Klang, I called to inform Abdul Rahman as he was the eldest. The entire family is shocked at his claim.

“We have been practising Buddhists all our lives. How is it that none of us, including my mother who has been looking after my sick father for the past two years, has no knowledge of this?” asked Hock Sin.

Temiang assemblyman Datuk Tiger Lee Yuen Fong and Rahang asemblyman Datuk Yip Chee Kiong, who were at the funeral parlour, appealed to all parties to remain calm and allow the authorities to assess the situation.

They also spoke with Eng Gor’s widow, Chua Chun, 65.

Hock Sin said it was not possible for his father to have embraced Islam as he had been bedridden for the past two years after suffering a stroke.

“He could not talk, so how was it possible that he converted?”

State Islamic Affairs assistant director Mohd Yusof Tahir, who arrived at the funeral parlour later, produced copies of a certificate and a card from the department which stated that Eng Gor had embraced Islam on July 3 last year.

Abdul Rahman was not present.

Speaking to reporters later, Mohd Yusof said the matter would be heard before the Syariah Court today.

Lee told reporters that the MCA would help appoint a counsel for the aggrieved family.

Eng Gor’s remains are being kept at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital mortuary.
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/1/21/nation/20073600&sec=nation

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