PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal is withholding its decision on the hearing of the Government’s appeal in the Allah case after conclusion of submissions on Tuesday.
The three-man panel comprising Mohamed Apandi Ali, Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim
are expected to give a written judgement in October.
The court had earlier heard submissions from lawyers for the Home Ministry and Government, interested Muslim groups and the Catholic Church.
In challenging a 2009 High Court decision that allowed Archbishop Murphy Pakiam’s application for The Herald to use “Allah” for God in its Malay section, Senior Federal Counsel Suzanna Atan contended that the Home Minister’s decision to prohibit the use of the word could not be questioned as he had acted within his powers and in good faith.
“The word ‘Allah’ is very sacred to Muslims and is placed on the highest position and its sanctity must be protected.
“Kalimah Allah refers to ‘oneness’ and cannot be part of the concept of Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost,” said Suzanna, adding that the minister acted pre-emptively in prohibiting the use of the word.
The Printing Presses and Publications Act provides for this, if the minister believes an issue can cause public unrest.
The church’s counsel, Porres Royan, replied that it was not enough to say there was such a potential, adding that the court should examine the material to say if that was true.
“Any discretion cannot be free from legal restraint,” he said. “These days, government authorities have such great powers and influence.”
He said Christians in Sabah and Sarawak had used the word “Allah” for generations and even The Herald had done so for 14 years without incident.
“If a non-Muslim uses any of these words (restricted words which include Allah) to other non-Muslims, there is no propagation of the faith,” he said, adding that the Federal Constitution permitted non-Muslims to propagate their religion to any non-Muslim.
Earlier, a vocal crowd led by Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali had gathered outside the Palace of Justice as the hearing began with submissions from the respective lawyers on the case at 9.30am.
Counsels for both the Roman Catholic Archbishop in Kuala Lumpur, the Government and other appealing parties would be submitting their arguments throughout the day.
Many protesters, including Perkasa and Perkid members, wore red t-shirts, which read 'Allah: Just For Muslims. Fight No Fear'.
They sang religious songs and waved banners with slogans and also cries of 'Hormat Islam', and 'Takbir Allah'.
Fallen Shah Alam candidate and Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zul Noordin also made an appearance, where he exhorted Muslims to defend their religion.
On Aug 22, the Court of Appeal unanimously denied the Roman Catholic Archbishop's application to strike out the Government's appeal.
On July 9, the Roman Catholic Archbishop filed the strike out application against the Government's appeal.
The Home Ministry and the Government were appealing against the Dec 31, 2009 High Court decision in allowing the church's judicial review to lift the Ministry's ban on the use of the word "Allah" in The Herald to refer to the Christian god.
The church, led by Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, filed the judicial review on Feb 16, 2009, naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents.
They sought, among others, a declaration that the decision by the Home Ministry on Jan 7, 2009, prohibiting the use of the word 'Allah' in the Herald was illegal and that the word 'Allah' is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.