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Malaysian NGO cautions against unlawful conversion of minors

A video of a school teacher and a preacher discussing ways to influence minors without parents’ knowledge creates row
High school students from a school in Kuala Lumpur.

High school students from a school in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 06, 2024 11:09 AM GMT
Updated: June 06, 2024 11:21 AM GMT

A prominent rights activist in Muslim-majority Malaysia has cautioned against unlawful religious conversion of minors after a video of a schoolteacher and a preacher discussing the topic surfaced.

Global Human Rights Federation’s (GHRF) deputy president Peter John Jaban warned that unlawful conversions in Malaysia were a serious issue, the Dayak Daily reported on June 6.

Jaban pointed out that the issue needs to be addressed to protect the rights of minors and uphold ethical standards in religious conversions in the country.

“GHRF advises parents to closely monitor their children, especially those still in school, to prevent such covert conversions from occurring,” Jaban said.

Jaban gave his remarks after a TikTok video allegedly showed a secondary school teacher, who is a religious teacher, and a preacher discussing religious conversions of secondary students.

The religious affiliation of the duo was not revealed in the Dayak Daily report.

Reportedly, the religious teacher had asked the preacher for guidance on how to convert minors and had received advice from the latter on how to proceed.

“By advocating for covert conversions, the preacher seems to be promoting a superficial and insincere approach, which goes against the principles of our law and the constitution,” Jaban lamented.

He pointed out that the preacher’s advice on converting minors discreetly without parental consent was not only unethical but also against the laws and the constitution of Malaysia.

Citing Article 12 Clause 3 and 4 of the constitution, Jaban said that the religious teacher and the preacher were both “disregarding the rights of the parents.”

Jaban pointed out that the move “to convert the minors without the knowledge of their parents raises questions about the ethical principles involved in religious conversions.”

The video’s content creates immense concern “especially when the preacher [is] teaching the methods of praying discreetly without the family members’ knowledge,” he alleged.

The actions of the religious teacher raise questions about his duty of care towards the students under his supervision, Jaban said, the Dayak Daily reported.

“Engaging in discussions about religious conversion without involving parents, is seen as breaching the trust and responsibility placed upon him as an educator,” Jaban alleged.

GHRF said that it condemns the unethical actions allegedly depicted in the TikTok video, as they involve teaching children to lie and engage in religious activities behind their parents’ backs.

“GHRF urges the Ministry of Education, [Department of Islamic Development Malaysia], and other Islamic bodies to take responsibility and thoroughly investigate such matters,” Jaban emphasized.

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