Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Beginda Minda, father of the 10-year-old pupil in Malaysia who was recently caned for bringing pork to school, has denied that he is a Muslim.
"I admit I was a Muslim before. But in 1999, I changed my religion. Now I am a non-Muslim," Beginda said.
The status of his religion had been brought to the forefront since the caning incident.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said the Government had asked Jakim to investigate the religious status of Beginda.
"Only after this can conclusions be drawn on why his son was caned," said the minister.
Debates and arguments in Parliament over the last two days had centred on whether or not his son Basil -- raised by a Christian mother -- was also Muslim.
Beginda stressed that his son was not a Muslim.
"My son is a Christian. He was brought up according to his mother's religion," he said.
The father also said that in 2004, when he applied for a MyKad, he had his name changed to Beginda Anak Minda.
His son was born on May 8, 2000.
On his birth certificate, no religion is stated for Beginda.
However, an independent MP claimed Beginda had contested under the PKR ticket in the 1999 and 2004 general elections as a Muslim candidate.
Kulim Bandar Baru MP, Zulkifli Noordin, told reporters at Parliament that Beginda had contested the two general elections as Nor Azman Abdullah.
According to a decree issued by the National Fatwa Council, if either parent is Muslim, the child must be Muslim.
Basil was caned 10 times on his palm for eating fried rice with pork which his mother had prepared for him.
The issue first surfaced at a PKR press conference in Kuching where Angela Jabing, the mother of the St Thomas Primary School pupil, accused a senior teacher of caning her son for bringing a non-halal meal to school.
This led to the school senior assistant apologising to Angela which she accepted.