KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 ― The federal government’s 2011 solution dubbed the “10-Point Solution” overrides its 1986 outdated ban on the word “Allah” in Christian publications, a lawyer argued in the High Court today.
Lim Heng Seng, the lead counsel for his Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christian client Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, claimed the government’s lawyer had effectively acknowledged that the 10-point solution overrode the 1986 ban.
Lim also said a memo was issued by the Home Ministry’s secretary-general to government officials for compliance with the 10-point solution in 2011 or risk disciplinary proceedings.
“So why do you allow the 1986 directive to hang like a sword of Damocles over Christians?” he asked.
“Obsolete, redundant, inapplicable and overridden,” he said when describing the 1986 government directive.Lim said clarification was needed from the courts over the “redundant” 1986 government directive which he said “continues to be used”.
“Out of the blue, in Sabah, some officers took it upon themselves to visit a church and to ask them not to use the word ‘Allah’,” he said, citing as example a news report last week where Home Ministry officers were said to have inspected a Sabah church’s publications for its internal use.
However, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, who represented the home minister and government, argued that the 10-point solution was only limited to the issue of Bibles that were seized by the Home Ministry then.
“The government decided on the 10-point solution, so this 10-point solution is purely to address the impounding of Bibles at that time because tension arose. They made seizure of Bibles in 2011, so this 10-point solution was issued.
“The directive was in 1986 and if the 10-point solution is to supercede (it), it would have been mentioned,” Shamsul said.
Today is the hearing of Jill Ireland’s bid to have the courts uphold her constitutional rights, following the government’s 2008 seizure of her eight compact discs containing the word “Allah” which were for her personal use and its justification of the seizure using a 1986 ban on “Allah” in Christian publications.
Jill Ireland is seeking two court orders, including a declaration that it is her constitutional right to have access to Christian publications in the exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education, as provided for by the Federal Constitution’s Article 11 on the freedom of religion.
The Sarawakian native of the Melanau tribe is also seeking a court declaration that the Constitution’s Article 8 guarantees her equality before the law and protection from discrimination on grounds of religion in the administration of law ― specifically the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and the Customs Act 1967.
Jill Ireland is also asking the court to declare the Home Ministry’s December 5 1986 circular to ban the word “Allah” in Christian publications as unconstitutional and unlawful, arguing among other things that the government has failed to prove such use was a threat to public order.
The hearing before High Court judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin resumes this afternoon.