The issues raised in the last section were explored in the important case of Teoh Eng Huat, decided by the Supreme Court in 1990, and in the debates which the case engendered. This case illustrates the exent of, and rationale of, religious freedom in Malaysia.
A Chinese girl, Susie Teoh, was converted to Islam, apparently of her own free will, at the age of 17 years and 8 months. Her father had brought her up as a Buddhist, and sued the kadhi who converted her for declaration that he as parent had the right to decide Susie’s religion, upbringing and education, and that her conversion was invalid.
The question of conversion was argued on the basis of Article 11(1). The age of the person was, held Abdul Malek J in the High Court, irrelevant provided the person was of sound mind and in a position to decide. The prohibition, contained in Article 12(3), against requiring a person to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own, is followed by this clarification in Article 12(4) where for the purpose of clause (3) the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parents or guardian. He therefore held that the age of majority under Article 12 had no application on Article 11, and applied the Islamic age of majority.