PETALING JAYA: A lawyer appearing for Sabah and Sarawak litigants on their right to use the word “Allah” in their religious teachings may write to the new Perikatan Nasional government for an administrative solution.
“I will have to take instruction from my clients to explore the possibility of settling the matter out of court,” counsel Lim Heng Seng told FMT.
He added that a fresh application must be made since a new administration has been installed in Putrajaya.
Lim, who leads the legal team appearing for Sarawakian Jill Ireland and the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church in Sabah, said they had written to the Pakatan Harapan government after it took power in May 2018.
“A five-member committee led by then-home minister Muhyiddin Yassin was looking into the matter,” he added.
He said others included religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and ministers Liew Vui Keong, Darell Leiking and Baru Bian representing Sabah and Sarawak.
Both matters which came up for case management today were rescheduled to next month.
In Ireland’ case, the High Court deferred its judgments several times after judge Nor Bee Ariffin heard submissions from Lim and the government in late 2017.
Nor Bee is now a Court of Appeal judge. Parties have been appearing before her to update her on the possibility of an out-of-court settlement.
In 2008, customs at the former low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang seized eight CDs from Ireland titled “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”.
Ireland, a Melanau Christian, filed for a judicial review to reclaim the CDs, seeking several declaratory reliefs as well.
In 2014, the High Court ordered the home ministry to return the CDs to Ireland but declined to issue the declaration as it was bound by a Federal Court ruling.
The following year, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling but ordered the High Court to hear Ireland’s application for the reliefs sought.
She is now seeking a declaration that her constitutional right to practise her religion was violated by the restriction or ban of the import of educational material.
SIB meanwhile filed an appeal in 2017 as part of attempts to reverse a High Court ruling in which Nor Bee dismissed its discovery application for documents used by the home ministry to support its ban on the church’s right to use the word “Allah”.
Nor Bee ruled that there was no necessity for such an order in a judicial review application.
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