Word ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim publications: Further case management of SIB Church’s appeal set for June 29

Some bibles are seen on a shelf at BSM. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Some bibles are seen on a shelf at BSM. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, May 22 — The Court of Appeal has set another case management date in the appeal by Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church on discovery of documents to enable parties in the appeal to inform the court on the status of their discussion on a possible settlement of the lawsuit.

“Another case management date has been fixed on June 29,” said senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, who is representing the Home Ministry and the government in the appeal.

Lawyer Tan Hooi Ping who appeared for the church said the case management date has been set for parties to update the court on the status of the discussion between them for an administrative resolution of the suit.

The appeal was set for case management today before deputy registrar N. Kanageswari.

SIB Church is appealing against the decision of a High Court in dismissing its application for discovery of documents pertaining to the Cabinet’s decision in 1986 which prohibited the use of the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

On October 16, 2017, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the church’s application for the documents, ruling that the documents were classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and could not be released.

The documents were requested by the church and its president, Jerry W A Dusing @ Jerry W Pate, in a judicial review application filed on December 10, 2007 against the Home Ministry and the government over their right to use the word Allah to refer to God in their religious publications.

The application was also filed to challenge the decision of the Royal Malaysian Customs to seize religious books brought in from Surabaya, Indonesia, which contained the word “Allah”, at the low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang on August 15, 2007.

They are seeking a declaration that they have a constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in their Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia-translated Christian bibles and in all their religious publications and materials.

On October 1, 2014, the Court of Appeal gave the nod to the church to initiate a judicial review application over the right to use the word “Allah” in all its religious publications and materials after the Kuala Lumpur High Court on May 5, 2014 dismissed the SIB church’s leave application to commence a judicial review.

Following the Court of Appeal’s decision, the matter was remitted to the High Court for hearing on the merits of the church’s judicial review.

However, the merits of the judicial review have yet to be heard at the High Court as SIB had first applied to obtain the documents. — Bernama

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