Muslim Councils’ Applications to Intervene in Herald Case

Comment: Amazing! So many Muslim Councils rushing to join the fray. Perhaps they are nervous about losing their case and seek assurance in numbers. It would have been so much simpler if people concerned just allow the two immediate parties involved in the suit to calmly and rationally argue their case. Surely it can’t be the case that 10+ Muslim councils are each presenting its own unique argument? Indeed, judging from eyewitness report describing the atmosphere at the court, It seems to me that some Muslim are more propelled by emotions than by rational and respectful argumentation.

More likely, and more disturbingly, the flood of applications, or rather the inflated crowd at the court is a show of force to intimidate the Catholic Church or the honorable judge.


Muslim Councils Try To Join Herald’s Case 2008-07-09

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday (9 July) started hearing the Catholic Church’s appeal for its continued right to use the word “Allah” in its weekly newspaper. But the hearing was immediately jammed by a flood of applications to join in the suit against the government from Muslim bodies as well as another one by the Sikh temple.

Some of the applications from the respective Majlis Agama Islam had already been filed before the hearing Wednesday but others are still in the “pipeline.” Therefore, Justice Madam Lau Bee Lan, decided that they should all be heard together and set a new date, 21 Nov, for continued hearing.

The suit is brought by the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, His Grace Most Reverend Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Pakiam, as publisher of the Herald, The Catholic Weekly. He is suing the Home of Internal Security, previously Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and now Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar as Home Affairs Minister, and the Federal government for not permitting him to use the word “Allah” in the publication as a condition for renewing their annual publishing permit. He maintained that the word is not exclusive to Islam.

He is seeking an Order of Certiori to quash the minister’s decision, among other things. Court granted leave on 25 April 2008 for his application to the heard today. He is represented by Porres Royan, Leonard Teoh, Derek Fernandez, and Annou Xavier while the respondents are represented by Senior Federal Counsel Azizah Nawawi and Nizam Zakaria.

Jagjit Singh, Balwant Singh Sidhu, Joginder Singh and Manjit Singh applied on behalf of the Gurdwara Council, the apex Sikh body in Malaysia to intervene in the case. This is because the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sikhism’s Holy Scripture had for centuries used the word “Allah” to refer to God. They said if Sikhs are similarly prohibited from using the word, it would violate their constitutional rights as they would not be able to “truly perform and practise their religion.”

Meanwhile, The Majlis Agama Islam of the Federal Territory, Penang, Perak, Terengganu, also applied to intervene in the matter. Counsel Hanif Khatri informed the court that others are still in the “pipeline” waiting to join the queue to the chuckles of those present. It is understood Kedah, Selangor and Johor are likely to follow suit.

In his affidavit, Datuk Haji Jamry bin Haji Sury, the Chief Executive Officer of the Perak Majlis, said the Islamic Council is seeking to intervene because it has an interest and jurisdiction to protect the interests of the followers of Islam throughout Malaysia in general since the circulation of the “Herald – The Catholic Weekly” which contains the word “Allah” is also circulated in Perak. He said the Archbishop’s application can jeopardise and/or affect the interest of the Majlis.

He said it is also the Islamic responsibility of the Proposed Intervener under “amar maaruf nahi mungkar” to prevent widespread disobedience of God’s laws amongst the Muslim community.

“I believe that in the event the application for the Proposed Intervener is dismissed and/or denied, the interest of every individual in Perak in particular and Islam in general will be prejudiced and/or jeopardised to the extent of shaking the very foundation of the Proposed Intervener,” he said.

The Archbishop in his affidavit in reply said the Perak Majlis Agama’s role is merely to assist and advise the Sultan of Perak in matters relating to the religion of Islam “except matters of Hukum Syarak and those relating to the administration of justice”.

He said there are no express provisions in law that the Proposed Intervener has a role to administer and ensure that the Islamic legislative institutions, the administration of Islam and the Islamic community in Perak.

He added that there are also no express provisions in law that the Proposed Intervener has the interest and jurisdiction to protect the interest of the Muslims for the whole of Malaysia in general.

He further said that the Proposed Intervener’s role in law is purely to assist and advise the Sultan of Perak in matters relating to the religion of Islam. Therefore the Proposed Intervener has not established any link to the parties in the suit that will be directly affected by any order which may be made by the court in this action.

Packiam also pointed out that his use of the word “Allah” in the “Herald – The Catholic Weekly” does not in any way hinder or undermine the rights of Muslims to use the word “Allah” in their worship or infringe on their basic belief (Tauhid).

He said the question of the Proposed Intervener’s overriding interest is baseless as there are no provisions in law which establishes this responsibility to the Muslims in Perak in particular and the Muslim community at large in Malaysia as claimed by the Proposed Intervener.

“Any intervention by the Proposed Intervener to raise an issue relating to jurisdiction would be clearly unnecessary and meaningless,” he said.

“Therefore, the Proposed Intervener ought not to be given leave to intervene and be added as a Respondent in these proceedings by this court and I pray that the Proposed Intervener’s application be dismissed with costs.” (By BOB TEOH/ MySinchew)

MySinchew 2008.07.09


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