Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Islamic council can intervene in review bid over use of word 'Allah'

The Federal Territory Islamic Council (Maiwp) was today allowed to be placed as an intervener in the Sidang Injil Borneo's (SIB) or Borneo Evangelical Church judicial review application on the use of the word Allah in its prayers.

This follows Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Hanipah Farikullah allowing Maiwp's application to intervene.

Justice Hanipah made the decision in chambers after hearing the application by Maiwp which was represented by Mohd Hanif Khatri Abdulla.

According to Hanif, Justice Hanipah ruled that Maiwp has the the duty and authority to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Islamic affairs and (matters) affecting any publication on the use of the word Allah.

Lawyer Lim Heng Seng and Annou Xavier representing SIB indicated that they will appeal today's decision as they felt that Maiwp's role was only aiding and advising and this did not create any legal right or interests which entitled it to be heard in the judicial review.

"We wanted to avoid this matter to be perceived as Christians against Muslims," said Lim, adding that they would file an appeal soon at the Court of Appeal.

Lim submitted that Maiwp's duty to advise the Agong in matters relating to Islam must be read in its ordinary meaning, that is to recommend or inform a situation.

Maiwp's advisory role to the Agong, he said, does not extend to intervening in Dusing's application.

Hanif however told the court that the council's duty to advise the Agong in matters relating to Islam in the state is in accordance with Article 3(5) of the Federal Constitution which provides the rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers of the Agong as the head of Islam in the Federal Territories, which includes Putrajaya and Labuan.

SIB president Rev Jerry Dusing, who was also present, agreed they would appeal.

This is the third challenge on the use of the word Allah for the Christian community.

In fact, SIB was the first to make the application to file a judicial review followed by the Roman Catholic archbishop and the Jill Ireland case.

However, the Roman Catholic archbishop's case was the first to be heard up to the Federal Court.

Application filed in 2007 following seizure

Dusing named the Home Ministry and the government as respondents in the judicial review application, which was filed in 2007 following the seizure of the books bearing the word Allah at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang that year.

Although the books were returned in 2008, just before the general election that year, Dusing did not withdraw the judicial review application as he said it affected the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak and the seizure went against the agreement of the two states joining together with Malaya in forming Malaysia.

SIB is going ahead with the judicial review application as it does not want problems in the near future as a result of this, and the use of the religious books as a pawn before each election.

On Oct 1, 2014, the Court of Appeal granted leave (permission) for SIB's application to be heard on its merits resulting in this matter being heard now.

"The threshold for the granting of leave is very low, that is prima facie, and we note the appellants have met the threshold and we allow leave.

"The decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court is set aside,” Justice Rohana Yusof who led the three-member bench had said.

Initially the KL High Court refused to grant leave citing it was bound by the decision in the Roman Catholic Church case.

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