Attorney-general (AG) Abdul Gani Patail should take action aganst the Selangor Islamic Council’s (Mais) for refusing to return the Bibles it had seized, to show that he is still in control of the country’s law enforcement agencies, said DAP.
The party’s legal bureau chief Gobind Singh Deo said Mais’ action is ‘open defiance’ of the AG, who has the sole discretion on prosecution in Malaysia.
“This is something that he should deal with to show that he is still in control, as far as prosecution is concerned...
“It is he who decides whether or not there is a case, and whether or not action should be taken.
"So once he has made a decision, the enforcement officers must abide by that decision,” he told reporters at a press conference today.
Gobind urged the AG and Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim to direct Mais and the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) to return the Bibles to Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).
Mais is Selangor’s Islamic authority and reports to the sultan and by their claim, not the federal or state government, and Jais is its enforcement arm.
Jais had raided BSM's office in January and seized over 300 copies of the Bahasa Malaysia and Iban Bibles on grounds that they breach the Non-Islamic Religion (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
Among others, the enactment prohibits the use of certain words in non-Islamic religions, including 'Allah', which Borneo Christians have used to refer to God in their holy books for nearly a century.
Mais today defied the Selangor government's instruction to return the seized Bibles to BSM following the AG's decision that there is no case.
Instead, Mais chairperson Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa recommended the matter to be brought to court to decide the fate of the seized items, in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Mais argument flawed
Gobind rubbished Mohamad Adzib's claim that Mais was complying with Section 407A of the CPC, which required the court to decide on the disposal of seized items.
The Puchong MP said the CPC provision applies to cases where a person has been charged in court, where items seized from the accused needs to be dealt with after the prosecution has been completed.
He argued this does not apply to the Bibles because there was no prosecution to begin with.
Since the Bibles were held to facilitate an investigation and the AG has ordered the case to be closed, Jais and Mais no longer have any legal basis to withhold the holy books.
When asked about Mais’ assertion that state executive councillors have no jurisdiction to order the bibles to be returned, the lawyer reiterated that Mais or Jais no longer have any authority to hold on to the Bibles.
“I think the question here is this: What is the legal basis for them to carry on holding the Bibles, when the AG has said that there is no case?
“I think that is the question that needs to be dealt with first. If they cannot provide an answer to that question, then they must return the Bibles.
“It is not the other way around. It is not for them to hold on to the Bibles and say to others that they are not in a position to direct,” he said.
Guan Eng 'speechless' at Mais
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Mais’ statement has left him speechless.
“I don’t know how to respond because I don’t understand why this is happening.
"I am just speechless because, why is this happening?” he said when asked for his response during the press conference.
He said when it was found that there is no basis for Penang Islamic Affairs Council (MAIPP) to keep the remains of Teoh Cheng Cheng, the body was returned to her family immediately.
“So here, if there is no basis, it should also be treated equally. So why is that not the case (with Mais), I just completely don’t understand,” he said.
MAIPP’s enforcement arm the Penang Islamic Affairs Department (JAIPP) seized Teoh’s remains from a Taoist funeral on Monday on suspicion that she was a Muslim convert.
The Penang Syariah High Court three days later ruled that she was not a Muslim, and her body was returned to the family and cremated on the same day.