By G VinodSHAH ALAM: Selangor religious officers behaved rudely when trying to claim the remains of a Christian who had converted to Islam and later renounced it, a daughter of the deceased told the Shah Alam High Court today.
Mary Rayappan was testifying at the hearing of a suit her family has brought against the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS). They are claiming RM12 million in damages, saying they were traumatised by their tussle with the religious authority over the remains of Rayappan a/l Anthony.
“It was quite a ruckus at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital mortuary as MAIS refused to allow my family to claim my father's remains,” Mary said.
The situation did not get any better when they were trying to sort out their disagreement in the hospital's conference room, she added.
“I produced my father's MyKad, which does not indicate that he is a Muslim,” she said. “However, the religious officers dismissed the legal document by calling it rubbish.”
Rayappan died on Nov 29, 2006, a month after falling ill.
When MAIS officers turned up to claim the body for a Muslim burial, the family refused to let them have it, saying Rayappan had renounced Islam in 1996.
The State Registration Department accepted the renunciation and gave him a new MyKad stating his name as Rayappan a/l Anthony, changed from Muhammad Rayappan bin Abdullah. The new card also omits referring to his religion as Islam.
At one point during today’s proceedings, there was a short quarrel between MAIS’ lead counsel, Sulaiman Abdullah, and the plaintiff's lawyer, M Manoharan.
Sulaiman asked Mary whether MAIS decided to withdraw its claim in order to defuse the tension between its officers and her family.
Manoharan said Sulaiman's style of questioning was intimidating, and this irked Sulaiman. They exchanged a few more angry remarks before being stopped by Judicial Commissioner Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad.
No visits from MAIS
When Sulaiman asked whether she was aware of her father's marriage to a Muslim woman, Mary said she was not, adding that MAIS did not produce any document to prove it.
She also told the court that no MAIS officer ever visited her father or the family when he was alive.
Asked to explain if she knew why MAIS dropped its claim, she said the authority decided that he was no longer a Muslim when he died.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Sivanesan criticised MAIS for its alleged failure to look after the welfare of converts.
“When Rayappan was alive, none of its officers came to see him,” he said. “They only came by to claim his body after his death.”