Sunday 14 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 21): The High Court has allowed the habeas corpus application for single mother Loh Siew Hong (pictured) to be with her three children who are currently under the care of the Welfare Services Department (JKM).

According to Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, the sole issue of this application is whether Loh — the applicant — is entitled to habeas corpus for the release of her children who are currently now under the care of the JKM.

“Pursuant to an order of the High Court dated March 31, 2021, the applicant was granted the sole custody, care and control of the children. There was also earlier an interim ex parte order dated Dec 20, 2019 granting sole custody, care and control of the children to the applicant.

“The court orders still stand and are valid and are not to be treated with impunity upon the pain of contempt to court. By the reasons of the court orders therefore, I allowed the application to the habeas corpus as per enclosure one in the notice of motion.

“The three children are to be released forthwith into the sole custody, care and control of the applicant,” he said, when delivering his decision via an open court proceeding on Monday (Feb 21).

Loh, 34, earlier was also present in the open court while her three children — twin girls aged 14 and a 10-year-old boy — were earlier present in a witness room under heavy police presence.

Motion of habeas corpus filed on Feb 13

In a notice of motion dated Feb 13 filed by Loh’s lawyer Dr Shamsher Singh Thind of Messrs SS Thind before hand, she named female preacher Nazirah Nanthakumari Abdullah, from a religious non-governmental organisation (NGO), as the first respondent and the party who detained the three children as the second respondent.

According to the document, the KL High Court on March 31, 2021 had granted custody, care and sole control of the three children to the applicant.

The applicant claimed in the notice that she had not been able to meet her children as they were hidden by her ex-husband M Nagahswaran.

The applicant also claimed that her children were in the control of the first respondent (Nazirah) at the Hidayah Centre Foundation in Bayan Lepas, Penang, and she (Nazirah) did not allow the applicant to meet and pick up her children. The applicant's children were then transferred to Perlis and placed under the control of the respondents.

“The actions of the respondents to keep the children without the applicant's consent constitute an illegal or inappropriate detention in a private care and this warrants the court's intervention as the applicant does not know the specific location of her children.

"The applicant has reasons to believe that there are intention and attempts by the respondents to convert her children to Islam and to take them outside of this court's jurisdiction," the document stated.

Justice Sequerah allowed the habeas corpus application, after hearing submissions from her lawyers and counsel appearing for Nazirah.

Loh was represented by A Srimurugan while Aidil Khalid represented the preacher in question.

Srimurugan said there are no Shariah court orders and laws to conflict with and that the mother, for all intents and purposes, has a lawful court order and pursuant to this court order, has asked the court to restore her to a full custody.

Meanwhile, Aidil said the issue of unilateral conversion is clearly not relevant, noting further that the matter is definitely not relevant in a habeas corpus application.

Demonstration outside court

Separately, the entrance to the Jalan Duta court complex was briefly crowded with various groups present following the habeas corpus hearing. A demonstration was also seen but the crowd dispersed peacefully later after a request from the court police.

Among those seen in the area of the court complex were observers, members of NGOs, as well as media personnel and political supporters.

Apart from that, Penang Chief Minister II, P Ramasamy and several DAP leaders were also inside Sequerah's court.

Prior to this, Loh was seeking to be reunited with her children who contended that they were abducted from her while she was recuperating from the injuries inflicted by her former spouse Nagahswaran in 2019.

Nagahswaran, who is currently serving jail in Kelantan on drug-related charges, unilaterally converted the three children to Islam without Loh’s knowledge and consent.

She had obtained full custody of her children in December last year and was briefly reunited with them on Feb 14 in Perlis.

The children were then placed under the care of the JKM, pending the scheduled habeas corpus application hearing earlier on Monday.

According to earlier reports, Loh also previously filed a separate court action to nullify the Islamic conversion of her three children.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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