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Islamic religous councils to refer dispute to Federal Court

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Nov 2008: Several state Islamic religous councils want to refer the dispute over the usage of the word “Allah” to the Federal Court for determination on the constitutionality of law.

Following this move, eight interveners requested the High Court here to issue a stay of the judicial review proceedings initiated by the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to challenge the Home Ministry’s decision prohibiting the use of word “Allah” in a Catholic weekly publication.

They are the state Islamic religious councils of Terengganu, the Federal Territory, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Johor and Malacca, and the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA).

Counsel Mubashir Mansor, representing the Terengannu, Penang and Malacca state religious councils, informed the court that the interveners intended to file the application to the Federal Court to define the constitutionality of certain laws relating to the case.

Mubashir said under Section 64 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, the court was required to grant a stay of the proceedings to enable the parties to bring up the matter for determination by the Federal Court.

Counsel Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing the state religious councils of Selangor, Kedah, Johor and the MACMA, and counsel Sulaiman Abdullah representing the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAWIP), supported the application.

Justice Lau Bee Lan then ordered Mubashir to make a written submission pursuant to his stay application before she made her ruling on whether to grant the stay or not.

The seven state Islamic religious councils and MACMA were given the green light by Lau today to intervene and be named as respondents in the judicial review proceedings.

The court gave the order after hearing submissions today from parties to intervene in the judicial review.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC), through its counsel Jagjit Singh, informed the court that MGC wanted to submit a representation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in not making this issue a confrontation.

Jagjit said the issue (the use of the word “Allah”) had arisen in Perak 10 years ago (in 1988), but the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had advised the parties involved in the case not to pursue the matter. 

He urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to consider adopting the same approach.

Jagjit then requested the court to adjourn the hearing of MGC’s intervening application.

Justice Lau then fixed 27 Feb next year for mention of the case to enable the parties to file any affidavits required in the judicial review.

The judicial review was sought by the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to challenge the Home Ministry’s decision to prohibit the use of the word “Allah” in The Herald-Catholic Weekly.

Archbishop Datuk Murphy Pakiam, as publisher of The Herald, named the Home Ministry and Government of Malaysia as respondents in his action and obtained leave to seek the judicial review from the High Court on 5 May.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Council’s application was supported by an affidavit affirmed by its secretary, Datuk Mohammed Khusrin Munawi, while that of the Kedah Islamic Religious Council also by its secretary, Datuk Kharudin Zain.

They said that as statutory bodies set up to ensure the interests of Muslims in Selangor and Kedah specifically and in Malaysia generally, they were interested parties in the proceedings because The Herald was also distributed in Selangor and Kedah.

Counsel Porres P Royan represented the archbishop while senior federal counsel Nizam Zakaria represented the Home Ministry and the Government. — Bernama


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