Sarawak’s usage on the word Allah non-negotiable, says Masing

Tan Sri Dr James Masing

KUCHING, Aug 6: The usage of the word “Allah” by Christians and non-Muslims in Sarawak is non-negotiable.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said the state government has made the decision on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims in Sarawak.

“We can use it. It demonstrates the freedom of religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. The court shouldn’t have deferred on the issue anymore, as far as Sarawak is concerned,” he said in a statement.

Masing was commenting on a news report that the High Court has deferred its ruling for the sixth time, on whether Christians in Sabah and Sarawak can use the word “Allah” in religious publications meant to educate members in their community.

According to FMT, judge Nor Bee Ariffin has allowed more time to find an administrative solution to the issue following a request by disputing parties.

She has fixed Oct 4 for parties to update her on the issue.

In 2008, customs at the former low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang seized eight CDs from Sarawakian Jill 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.

Nor Bee first reserved judgment last year, after hearing submissions from lawyer Lim Heng Seng who represented Ireland and senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan in late 2017.

The High Court initially fixed March 22 for the decision, but deferred it several times, the last being Nov 14, 2018.

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 restricting or banning the import of educational material. — DayakDaily