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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 15:34 GMT
Chance meeting solves baby mix-up
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

A Malaysian Chinese couple are considering taking legal action against a hospital for sending them home with the wrong baby nearly 30 years ago.

The couple, who had always suspected a mix-up, were reunited with their biological son after a chance meeting in a shopping centre.

But the family may now face a battle with Malaysia's religious authorities.

As well as taking a Chinese name, the son wants to renounce Islam - something which is very difficult in Malaysia.

Teo Ma Leong had always suspected his fifth child was not his own.

The young boy's dark features led neighbours to whisper that he was the result of an affair.

Meanwhile, Mr Teo's biological son had always suspected he was not really the child of the Malay Muslim couple who took him home from a hospital in Batu Pahat in southern Malaysia in 1978.

So Zulhaidi Omar left home at 13 because he felt he did not belong.

Supermarket spot

Then eight years ago one of his sisters spotted him working in a shopping centre.

Convinced he was the spitting image of their father, she brought the rest of her family along.

After staring at one another for a while they found the courage to speak and the truth emerged.

DNA tests subsequently proved that the two men were father and son.

Now the family has gone public with their story because Zulhaidi wishes to take a Chinese name and renounce Islam.

That is very difficult in Malaysia, where the Islamic authorities regard abandoning the faith as a grievous sin.

However the Malaysian government has started to encourage a more pragmatic approach from its religious departments, so the Teo family may yet be reunited in name as well as deed.

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