Parties in ‘Allah’ suits hope for solution from PN govt

A lawyer says the ‘Allah’ issue has been referred to the Perikatan Nasional government in a bid for an amicable settlement. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: A ruling on whether two litigants from Sabah and Sarawak can use the word “Allah” in their religious teachings has been put on hold pending an administrative solution under the Perikatan Nasional government.

Lawyer Annou Xavier said the matter has been referred to a deputy minister to have the matter resolved amicably.

“We will return to the court next month to update the judge on whether the matter can be resolved administratively,” he told FMT when asked about the progress of the two cases.

Lawyers will meet judge Nor Bee Ariffin on Aug 28. Case management was held last week.

Annou, a member of the legal team appearing for a Sarawakian woman, Jill Ireland, and the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church in Sabah, said they had first written to the Pakatan Harapan government after it took over power in May 2018.

A five-member committee led by then home minister Muhyiddin Yassin was supposed to be looking into the matter, he said.

He said the others comprised then de facto religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and ministers Liew Vui Keong, Darell Leiking and Baru Bian, representing Sabah and Sarawak.

The PH government collapsed in late February, and Perikatan Nasional took over the reins of power.

In Ireland’s case, the High Court deferred its judgments several times after Nor Bee heard submissions from Liew and the government in late 2017.

Nor Bee is now a Court of Appeal judge, but the contending parties have been appearing before her to update her on the possibility of an out-of-court settlement.

In 2008, Customs officers at Kuala Lumpur airport in Sepang seized from Ireland eight CDs entitled “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 her but did not address the constitutional points as it was bound by a Federal Court ruling.

The following year, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court ruling but ordered it to hear Ireland’s application for the reliefs sought.

She now seeks a declaration that her constitutional right to practise her religion was violated by the restriction or ban of the import of educational material.

SIB 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.