The Federal Court's decision on Lina Joy was as expected but the aftermath of such decisions will have a long-lasting impact for the future development of social integration in this country. We still have a long way to go if we were to abide by what the Muslim groups had suggested, that is to leave such issues to the respective religious authorities as opposed to trying these matters in court to challenge their validity and legality based on what that has been enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
It is basically saying that no matter what the law says and no matter how absurdly it is drafted or what it may mean, sensitive issues such as conversion out of the federation's official religion is something which cannot be questioned or challenged.
Situations such as these will only create more animosity amongst the people as they will slowly but surely feel that segregation is best for Malaysian society. If a through look at the constitution is done, we will find that the majority Malays have very carefully protected their race, religion and status as the majority race in this country and by the way the constitution is drafted, religious freedom and human rights advocacy have no place in it.
The arbitrary powers which the Federal Constitution seeks to give to those in power is very widely drafted, to be used should a challenge such as what had happenned in the case of Lina Joy were to take place. This will only create an automaton society which will never question the establishment on how they govern. In the long run, it will lead to the disintegration of Malaysian society's very finely woven fabric.
To create a balance it may be well suggested that a Religious Court with all the representatives of the respective communities that comprise our Malaysian society be created to ensure that converts are aware that it will be a 'no return' ticket should they wish to convert to Islam. It must also be impressed upon them that conversion cannot be used as a backdoor method to escape liability from civil action or from common civil legislation.
Since most of the cases are going to be those who have evidence to show that they come from mixed religion families where their parents had registered them in one name and brought them up in the practices of another religion, the courts, if in this instance being the Syariah courts, will have to provide the answers.
It can be well said that Malaysia is a unique place where one can see that bringing up children in households that practice different religions is very common. Trouble only starts when the child is grown and begins to adapt in the adult world where questions will be asked. We cannot be proud of the case of Lina Joy for we are going to see many more such cases and we must be ready to give them solutions and remedies for their predicaments.
If the Syariah courts are the forum, then they must be prepared to allow non-Muslims to be represented in their courts and welcome them without any form of prejudice because they are of different faiths. Therefore, if it has been decided that the Syariah courts are the forum to get justice, then let's see if justice is served.