KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, 33, a Melanau Christian whose eight Christian-related CDs were seized by the Home Ministry in 2008, today argued at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the basis of the Federal Court decision last Monday not to intervene in the Court of Appeal decision on the Catholic weekly Herald.
Their argument is that the apex court’s decision should not be a precedent for the Jill Ireland case. Besides, the Federal Court had said that the remarks made by the Court of Appeal on 14 October last year regarding the Herald – “Allah not being integral to the Christian faith” — were merely “obiter” i.e. opinion and not binding as precedent.
High Court Judge Zaleha Yusof fixed July 21 for a decision on the matter.
Jill’s lead counsel Lim Heng Seng added today that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had said the Court of Appeal decision is confined only to the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Herald.
“Within hours following the Federal Court decision (not to intervene), the Prime Minister’s Office had also released a statement that the decision applies only to the Herald and other Christians can continue to use the word ‘Allah’,” he submitted before Judge Zaleha.
In May, Justice Zaleha presided over an “Allah’ case involving the Home Ministry’s confiscation of Christian books for children which contained the word ‘Allah’. The books belonged to Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).
Zaleha denied SIB permission to initiate a judicial review of the Home Ministry’s decision, citing that she was bound by the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the word ‘Allah’ is not integral to the Christian faith.
However her decision was prior to last week’s Federal Court’s ‘obiter dictum’ ruling of the Court of Appeal decision.
Jill’s case was filed in 2009.
Her CDs were seized on 11 May 2008 at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang on her return journey from Indonesia.
The Home Ministry held, under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) on the premise of public order, that they contained the prohibited word ‘Allah’ and were in breach of the Department of Islamic Development’s (Jakim) guidelines.
The CDs contained titles including ‘Cara Menggunakan Kunci Kerajaan Allah’, ‘Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah’ and ‘Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah’.
~ Free Malaysia Today