High Court's ruling quashing the ban on the use of Allah applies to all, Sarawak lawyer tells PM

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUCHING, May 16 — Ba’Kelalan State Assemblyman Baru Bian tonight said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has no basis for saying that the High Court’s ruling in quashing the ban on the usage of the word “Allah” by the Christians is only applicable to Sarawak.

He said the prime minister’s statement contradicts the statement made by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

“In this instance, the home minister’s view is the legally correct position,” he said in a statement.

Baru said Anwar must not confuse the people by making inaccurate assumptions or conclusions on the legal effect of the withdrawal of the appeal.

“The judgment of the High Court applies throughout the whole of Malaysia,” Baru, who is also a practising lawyer, stressed.

He said he is disappointed with the prime minister’s statement reported today on the withdrawal of the appeal in the ‘Allah’ case.

He said it must be noted that the source of all the problems which culminated in the filing of the case is the 1986 Administrative directive by the home ministry banning the use of certain words by non-Muslims.

He said the present case basically was a challenge to the legality of that directive, adding that he had pointed out in his statement yesterday that in her judgment, Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin had said that the Home Ministry had exceeded its powers with the order, and that such a prohibition was against the Constitution.

“Her ladyship held that the directive banning the use of the words was invalid.

“There was no distinction made between Sarawak and the other states in Peninsular Malaysia in the judgment,” he said.

He added that by withdrawing the appeal, the Attorney-General and the government are effectively accepting the decision of the judge in its entirety, thereby acknowledging that the 1986 directive is invalid.

“The Home Minister understands this, as evidenced by today’s video clip of his press conference on the matter.

“He was very clear on this, stating that the home ministry can no longer enforce that

directive,” he said, adding that he applauded the home minister on his understanding and explanation of the implications of the judgment.

Baru said the law should apply to all the states in Malaysia, adding that if the prime minister goes on a case by case then he is implying that each state law can prohibit non-Muslims from using certain words which means restricting religious freedom.

He said the judge did not limit that ruling to only Sarawak.

“The Federal Constitution does not discriminate among the people of different races or states. As head of the Unity Government, the Prime Minister must not shy away from speaking the facts, especially where the rights of the minority are at risk of being eroded and curtailed,” Baru said.

Earlier today, Anwar was quoted as saying by Bernama that the High Court ruling that quashed a government ban on the use of “Allah” in Christian publications was limited to Sarawak alone.

He insisted his government’s decision to withdraw its appeal against the ruling would not affect all of Malaysia.

“This is specifically in the case of Sarawak... it is not applicable to Melaka or Penang or Selangor ... this must be understood,” he was quoted as saying.

Yesterday, the home minister confirmed withdrawing the appeal against the 2021 High Court ruling in favour of the Sarawakian native, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.