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11 Mac 2021

Selangau MP Baru Bian

KUCHING: Selangau MP Baru Bian urged the federal government not to contest yesterday’s High Court decision invalidating a 1986 directive prohibiting Christian publications from using the word “Allah”.

He said the federal government and other religious leaders should accept and respect High Court judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin’s decision delivered in Kuala Lumpur earlier today.

“It is the expectation of us in Sarawak as per the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC ) Report that our religious rights and freedom be protected,” Baru, who is also a former federal minister, said when asked by Malay Mail to respond to the high court’s decision on specific constitutional reliefs sought by the Sarawakian native Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.

Baru described the court’s decision as a bold one.

“If you were to ask me as a lawyer, this is the correct reading of the law,” he said, adding the decision is good news to Christians in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said the decision to quash the ban on the use of the word “Allah” by the Christians showed that freedom of religion was alive and well in Malaysia.

“We must bear in mind that the use of the word ‘Allah’ precedes Islam. Thus, the word is not the sole custodian of those who profess the Islamic faith,” Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, said.

The High Court earlier today ruled that the Malaysian government’s directive issued in 1986 with a total ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications is unconstitutional and invalid.

It also declared orders to affirm Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill’s right to not be discriminated against and practice her faith.

The judge granted three of the specific constitutional reliefs sought by the Sarawakian native of the Melanau tribe.

The three orders granted by the judge include a declaration that it is Jill Ireland’s constitutional right under the Federal Constitution’s Article 3, 8, 11 and 12 to import the publications in the exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education.

The other two declarations granted by the judge today are that a declaration under Article 8 that Jill Ireland is guaranteed equality of all persons before the law and is protected from discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion in the administration of the law ― specifically the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Customs Act 1967), and a declaration that government directive issued by the Home Ministry’s publication control’s division via a circular dated December 5, 1986, is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The order today means that the government’s long-standing absolute ban in the 1986 circular on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications in Malaysia has been declared invalid by the court. - Malaymail

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