Court allows publisher to challenge ban on use of word ‘Allah’

The Star

BY M. MAGESWARI

KUALA LUMPUR: The publisher of the Herald has been allowed to challenge the Government’s order prohibiting the use of the word “Allah” in the Catholic weekly.

High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan dismissed the objection by the Government and ruled that it was without merit.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Datuk Murphy Pakiam had applied to declare that the Herald is entitled to use the word and that its use was not exclusive to Islam.

Rev Murphy, 70, had named the then Internal Security Minister and the Government as respondents in the application filed on March 19.

The archbishop is named as an applicant in this action as publisher of the Herald.

Justice Lau said she could not agree with argument of Senior Federal Counsel Azizah Nawawi who said both these rights were private rights that must be proved by oral evidence.

She said SFC Azizah had argued that the proper mode to do so was by way of civil suit and added that the issues involved question of fact to be decided by court after hearing expert evidence on the subject matter.

“With regret, I find the contention of the learned SFC cannot be sustained,” she said yesterday.

Justice Lau said: “Firstly, I am in agreement with lead counsel for the applicant, Porres Royan, that it is premature to make any submission on which remedy is the appropriate remedy at the leave stage.”

The judge further said that the appropriateness or otherwise of the remedy was to be determined at the merit stage.

Justice Lau then allowed leave for the applicant to apply for an order of certiorari to quash the Government’s decision dated Feb 12 prohibiting the archbishop from using the word in Herald.

Speaking to reporters later, Royan said the applicant would file substantive application for the purpose within the next two weeks.

Co-counsel for the applicant, S. Selvarajah said the granting of the leave showed that the case was not “frivolous or vexatious”.

“The court felt that the application couldn’t be dismissed without further argument on merits of the case.

“It wants us to go forward to urge the court to quash the minister’s decision,” he added.

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