Visitor No since 22-10-98
Resolving tugs of war E-mail
Sunday, 21 February 2016
The Sunday Star 
With All Due Respect by Roger Tan

Resolving tugs of warThe Federal Court ruling on the custody battle between a Muslim convert and his Hindu ex-wife was a landmark decision. Can the thorny issue of unilateral conversion be finally be put to rest?

The much-awaited decision of the Federal Court involving S. Deepa and her former husband, now a Muslim convert, Izwan Abdullah, delivered on Feb 10, is sort of a landmark decision.

Deepa and Izwan (whose Hindu name is N. Viran) registered their civil marriage on March 19, 2003, under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, 1976 (Act 164). They have two children, a girl, V. Shamila and a boy, V. Mithran. ­Both were Hindus at the time of their birth. 

On Nov 26, 2012, Viran converted to Islam. On Jan 4, 2013, Izwan unilaterally converted the two minors to Islam surreptitiously without the knowledge or consent of Deepa. 

Shamila’s Muslim name is Nur Nabila Izwan while Mithran is named Muhammad Nabil Izwan. On May 15, 2013, Izwan also managed to obtain a dissolution order of his civil marriage with Deepa from the Seremban Syariah High Court under section 46(2) of the Islamic Family Law (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 2003. Then on Sept 19, 2013, Izwan was granted permanent custody of the two children by the Syariah High Court with Deepa having visitation rights and access to the children.

Meanwhile, upon the application of Deepa, the civil marriage was dissolved by the Seremban Civil High Court on April 7, 2014. The same court also granted permanent custody of the children to Deepa with Izwan having weekly access to the children. However, two days later, Izwan took Mithran away from Deepa’s house. Deepa then applied for and obtained a recovery order from the Civil High Court pursuant to section 53 of the Child Act, 2001. 

Izwan appealed to the Court of Appeal against the custody order as well as the recovery order. On Dec 17, 2014, the Court of Appeal dismissed both appeals. 

On Feb 10, the Federal Court ruled that as long as one parent was non-Muslim, the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction to hear any matter pertaining to the marriage solemnised under civil law at the very beginning (ab initio). The court also granted custody of Shamila (Nurul Nabila), 11, to Deepa, while son Mithran (Nabil), eight, is to live with Izwan. 

To be fair to the panel of five Federal Court judges chaired by the Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Raus Sharif who also delivered the decision of the apex court, the issue of unilateral conversion was not addressed simply because the court was asked to determine only two questions of law, namely:
 
Platform for strata woes E-mail
Sunday, 22 November 2015
The Sunday Star 
With All Due Respect by Roger Tan

Platform for strata woes
On board: Senior lawyer Teh Yoke Hooi, the only woman president, receiving her letter of appointment from Dahlan, flanked by the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek and Norhayati.
ON July 9 this year, 20 lawyers received their letters of appointment as presidents of the Strata Management Tribunal from Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan. 

The much-awaited Strata Management Act, 2013 (Act 757), initiated by the previous minister, Tan Sri Chor Chee Heung, finally came into force on June 1, 2015, in the peninsula except for Penang which came into operation on June 12, 2015.

The Strata Management (Strata Management Tribunal) Regulations, 2015, came into effect on July 1, 2015. Act 757 also repealed the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act, 2007 (Act 663).

In fact, the tribunal is the precursor of the Strata Titles Board set up under the repealed provisions of the Strata Titles Act, 1985 (Act 318) which really did not take off despite Act 318 being amended on Dec 1, 2000, and again on April 12, 2007.

The tribunal’s headquarters is based in Putrajaya whilst offices have also been set up in Penang, Johor Baru and Kuala Terengganu (See table). The chairman of the tribunal is Norhayati Ahmad.

With more than three million Malaysians living in various stratified buildings, it is hoped that this tribunal will be an effective forum for the various stakeholders to settle their disputes.

Persons who are entitled to file a claim to the tribunal are developers, purchasers, proprietors including an original proprietor, joint management bodies, management corporations, subsidiary management corporations, managing agents and any other interested person, with the permission of the tribunal.
 
© 2016 Roger Tan :: www.rtkm.com