KUCHING, April 2 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declined to comment on the federal government’s appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s ruling that annulled a directive prohibiting Christians from using the word “Allah” in their religious education and books.
He said the case is now with the Court of Appeal so it will be sub judice for him to comment.
“So let’s wait for whatever is the result of the appeal,” he said when asked by reporters about the decision of the federal government to file the appeal.
He was speaking at a press conference after visiting the Sarawak General Hospital.
“The High Court has decided on the case and the (federal) Attorney-General has filed an appeal and we will leave it entirely up to the court to decide,” he stressed.
On March 10, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that the government directive via a December 5, 1986 circular issued by the Home Ministry’s publications control division was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin, who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal, granted three of the specific constitutional reliefs sought by Sarawakian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill of the Melanau tribe.
Jill Ireland had previously challenged the government’s seizure of her eight educational compact discs (CDs) containing the word “Allah” in their titles and which were meant for her personal use.
The CDs were seized in 2008 based on the 1986 directive but were previously returned in 2015 to Jill Ireland following court orders.
The word “Allah” is Arabic for God and has been adopted into the Malay language, and has been used for generations by Malay-speaking Christians in the country, especially those living in Sabah and Sarawak.
The three court 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 were 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 publications control division via a circular dated December 5, 1986, is unlawful and unconstitutional.
The Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Jill Ireland filed her lawsuit almost 13 years ago after the Home Ministry seized eight educational compact discs (CDs) containing the word “Allah” meant for her personal use at the Sepang LCCT airport upon her return from Indonesia.
Following the May 11, 2008 seizure, Jill Ireland filed for judicial review in August the same year against the home minister and the government of Malaysia.