The body of Lawrence Selvananthan, 33, was scheduled to be brought to a church in Seremban at 3pm today for a funeral mass followed by his burial, but his family was stopped by police and Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department (JHEINS) officials who claimed that he had already converted into Islam.
The deceased's cousin, who asked to only be identified as Jenny, said they were approached by police officers at the family home in Lukut, Port Dickson at about 12.40pm to inform them that they could not proceed with the burial.
She said the police officers showed them what she described as a photocopied document, detailing Lawrence's alleged conversion into Islam.
“They told us that he just converted three days ago. The name and IC number were correct, but there was no photo. We're not even sure of (the authenticity of) the signature,” she said when contacted by Malaysiakini.
It is understood that Lawrence, a lorry driver, was found unconscious in his parked lorry by family members, and declared dead on arrival at the Seremban General Hospital sometime last night. The cause of death is unclear.
Both sides in discussion
PKR's Port Dickson state assemblyperson Ravi Munusamy, who was mediating between the two parties, confirmed that there was a stand-off between the family members and JHEAINS and police officers.
He estimated at least 30 officials went to the house to claim the body, though both sides have since entered discussions, which were still ongoing at the time of writing this article.
Ravi pointed out that the family members are sceptical over the conversion claim as the witness to Lawrence's alleged conversion did not turn up despite being asked to verify the claim.
“Even the signature on the document is not his. His brother confirmed it is not his (Lawrence's) signature,” he added.
Jenny stressed that the situation is only making things worse for the family, as they cannot even grieve over their loss.
“The family is very sad. His daughter lost a father and his wife lost a husband.
"They said he had already mengucap (took his vows of conversion) at the department, but by right they should have informed his family immediately. We think this is very unfair to us,” she said.