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Malaysia is in a unique position where both the laws of Syariah and the Civil Law are practised concurrently. This has given rise to a conflict in jurisdiction in certain cases. For instance, where a non-Muslim couple is married under the provisions of the Civil Law, confusion arises when one party converts to Islam and converts their children as well. A custody battle often ensues where the Syariah Court can grant custody of the children to their newly converted Muslim parent while the High Court of Malaya can grant custody to the non-Muslim parent. THE AGE OF SMILING SECRETS is a work of fiction that is based on this legal position.
[***The Legend of Nagakanna (an edited version of Chapter 9 in this novel) was first published in an anthology called We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture, School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with Commonwealth Writers, 2018]