Church Can Seek To Nullify Govt Ban On Allah Word

Church Can Seek To Nullify Govt Ban On Allah Word (2008-04-29 18:07)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government wants the High Court of Kuala Lumpur to throw out the suit by the Roman Catholic Church here to defend its right to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication on grounds that it is irregular, misconceived, and an abuse of the process of the court.

However, Federal Counsels representing the government have no objection to the church’s application to get the court to declare the government’s prohibition over the Allah word null and void.

In the continuation of hearing of the church’s efforts to present its case to the court, the church’s lawyers; Porres Royan, Leonard Teoh, S. Selvarajah, and Annou Xavier are asking for three areas of reliefs.

Senior Federal Counsel Azizah Haji Nawawi and Suzanna Atan representing the Internal Security Minister (previously Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and now Syed Hamid Albar) and the government before Madam Justice Lau Bee Lan here today said they have no objections to the church’s bid to declare the respondents’ decision prohibiting the use of the word in Herald-The Catholic Weekly-as illegal and null and void.

However, they objected to the application for leave filed by the Titular Roman Catholic Church of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Murphy Pakiam who is the publisher of the Herald, that the Herald is entitled to use the Allah word and that the word is not exclusive to Islam.

They further argued that the applicant cannot apply its private rights to use the word “Allah” in an application for judicial review and that the claim over the use of the word can only be decided by the court after hearing expert evidence.

The church’s lawyers pointed out that the hearing is just at the preliminary stage and this will be argued at the substantive stage subsequently.

Federal Counsel also argued that the Archbishop’s application for leave to seek an Order of Certiorari is irregular as it should have been the main application and not subsequently to other reliefs sought.

Counsel for the church argued that the sequencing of the application is inconsequential and has no effect on their application.

On the third relief sought to stay the order of the respondents, Federal Counsel argued that Justice Lau had previously declined to make such stay orders and therefore, should not award it in this case. The applicant’s lawyers decided not to ask for this order but maintained that they are not withdrawing the application for a stay and may re-apply for it whenever needed. Judgment is reserved for Monday (5 May).

In his affidavit, Pakiam said, “ I am advised by my solicitors that I have a legal right to use the word “Allah” in the Herald-The Catholic Weekly- and this legal right stems from the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and from the right to profess and practice the Christian faith as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which includes and is not limited to propagating the faith amongst the non-English speaking faithful in Malaysia especially the Indonesians and the Arabic-speaking of the Christian faith.”

He said the word “Allah” is the correct Bahasa Malaysia word for “God” and in the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Bible, “God” is translated as “Allah” and “Lord” is translated as “Tuhan”.

He added that for fifteen centuries, Christians and Muslims in Arabic-speaking countries have been using the word “Allah” in reference to the One God. The Catholic Church in Malaysia and Indonesia and the great majority of other Christian denominations hold that “Allah” is the legitimate word for “God” in Bahasa Malaysia.

“Therefore state that it has now been universally accepted that the word ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to the religion of Islam both as a matter of faith and as a matter of the use of language,” he said.

Pakiam also complained that he is constantly harassed by the minister and government to cease to use the word “Allah” in the Herald and the numerous threats to him to either suspend or revoke the Herald’s publication permit over the use of the word “Allah” has infringed his legal right and has caused him much apprehension, anxiety and uneasiness.

He added that it is unfair, unreasonable and irrational for the respondents to classify and to continue to classify the use of the word “Allah” as a security issue which is purportedly causing much confusion and which threatens and endangers peace, public order and security when in fact in the thirteen years of the Herald’s publication, there has never been any untoward incident arising as a result of the use of the word “Allah” in the Herald.

The Herald’s publishing permit for this year was subject to a condition dated 12 Feb 2008 which prohibits the use of the word “Allah” in the Herald.

“I am advised by my solicitors and verily believe that the Respondents in making the decision dated 12.2.2008 acted in breach of the rules of natural justice, procedural and substantive fairness and the duty to act fairly,’ he said.

He added that they had acted irrationally and unreasonably by prohibiting the Applicant from using the word “Allah” or directly quoting the word “Allah” from the Al-Kitab.”

In doing so, they have created a state of affairs which endangers his right to publish the Herald which serves to disseminate news and information weekly on the Catholic Church in Malaysia and elsewhere to a wide readership, Pakiam said. (MySinchew)

MySinchew 2008.04.29


One Response to “Church Can Seek To Nullify Govt Ban On Allah Word”

  1. Bayrak Says:

    do you know any information about this subject in other languages?

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