Zaid turns to courts for remedy over ban of his book


Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim has filed a judicial review to quash a recent ban on his book which has been in circulation for about two years.

The former de facto law minister said the book titled “Assalamualaikum (Peace Be Upon You): Observation on the Islamisation of Malaysia” did not cause any prejudice or likelihood of prejudice to public or national interests.

He said the order was also a breach of his constitutional right under Article 10 (1) of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.

On Dec 4 last year, the minister gazetted the prohibition under the Printing, Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order.

The order is enforced under Section 7 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984.

Zaid said the minister, who is named respondent, did not give him the right to be heard before the order was made.

The book has been in circulation since October 2015.

He said the minister used his discretion under Section 7(1) to stop its printing, production, publishing, sale, circulation and possession of the book.

In the action filed in the High Court of Kuala Lumpur by Messrs Americk Sidhu last week, Zaid said between October 2015 and November last year, the minister did not exercise his discretion to prohibit the book.

“It is a fair inference that the respondent has no good reason in law and fact to make the said order,” Zaid said in his affidavit in support of his application that was sighted by FMT.

He said the order was oppressive, unreasonable, irrational and without due consideration to his constitutional right under Article 10 (1) of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.

Zaid, who is now a DAP member, said the order was null and void because it was a disproportionate incursion on constitutional rights.

“The respondent has no absolute discretion to make the said order. His discretion is subject to due observation of the rule of law,” he said, adding that the application was not frivolous and vexatious.

He added the subject matter of the application was also justiciable.

A case management has been fixed for Feb 14 before a court deputy registrar to fix a hearing date to hear Zaid’s leave application for judicial review.

In October last year, G25, a group of eminent civil servants promoting moderation, filed a similar suit after the minister banned its book titled “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation? Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”.

Two weeks ago, it obtained leave from the High Court without contest from the attorney-general to have the merits of their case heard.

The Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) last year filed a judicial review to oppose the ban of three books by the minister.

On Nov 29, the High Court granted leave to IRF which wanted to quash the minister’s order to ban the books titled “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan”, a translation of Turkish academic Mustafa Akyol’s “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”, as well as two volumes of its “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” series.

IRF is also seeking a declaration that Section 7 of the PPPA to control undesirable publications was also inconsistent with provisions in the constitution.

It would be heard separately in the Federal Court.