The Chief Minister of Sarawak has announced plans to amend conversion laws so that converts from Islam will not be “left hanging”.
The announcement follows last week’s ruling by the Malaysian High Court that four Christian converts from Sarawak cannot change their officially registered religion without permission from a sharia court, leaving them open to prosecution for apostasy. Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia where Christians are more numerous than Muslims.
Chief Minister Abang Johari stated, “Since they [converts] no longer have any faith [in Islam], there should not be any legal obstacle for them. And that is why there must be a court ruling to say that they are no longer Muslims and with that ruling, they can go to the National Registration Department to change their personal particulars and get new identity cards.”
The details of the potential changes to the law are not expected to be announced for another six months and it is not clear whether Christian converts wishing to change their legal status will be able to avoid having to face a sharia court.
When the Chief Minister’s comments were first published in the Malay Mail, the paper reported that the planned amendments would “make it easier” for Muslim converts to leave Islam, but the Minister’s Press Secretary later requested the paper amend the statement.