Home Minister allowed to exercise discretion over importation of any publication


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Minister may refuse the importation of any publication into Malaysia if he is satisfied that its content is likely to be prejudicial to public order or national interest, a Senior Federal Counsel submitted.

SFC Shamsul Bolhassan said that Section 9 of the Printing, Presses and Publications Act 1984 also gave the power to the minister to withhold the delivery or return to the sender outside Malaysia of any publication containing among others any article, caricature, photograph and statement.

"In exercising the discretion, the minister must not have improper motive, had not misdirected himself, have considered all relevant matters and the decision did not militate against the object of the law," said SFC Shamsul.

"Thus, it cannot be said that the religious freedom of the applicant Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill is violated by Section 9 of the Act when it is clearly provided for under the Federal Law," added SFC Shamsul.

He is the lawyer acting for the Home Minister and the Government at the judicial review hearing filed by Bill before High Court judge Justice Nor Bee Ariffin on Wednesday.

He said the applicant (Bill) submitted that the 1986 Government Directive which prohibits Christian publications from using the word "Allah" was unconstitutional as it infringed her rights and her fellow congregation from professing and practising the religion.

"The 1986 directive is a Cabinet decision which is a policy decision at that point of time to avoid any confusion among the Muslim and Christian communities which is likely to create religious sensitivity among Malaysians. As it is now, the 1986 directive still stands and has not been withdrawn.

"Despite the allegation of infringement to the rights of Christian community to profess and practise their religion due to the 1986 directive, I submit that the publication is still permissible with endorsement "UNTUK AGAMA KRISTIAN" on the publication. Therefore to say the 1986 directive has infringed their rights to profess and practise is inaccurate," he added.

Bill was a clerk from Sarawak who filed the lawsuit on Aug 28, 2008 and named the Home Minister and the Government as the respondents.

The CDs titled, "Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah", "Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah" and "Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah", were seized from the Melanau woman on her arrival at the LCCT in Sepang on May 11, 2008 upon her return from Indonesia.

On July 21, 2014, the High Court ordered that the CDs be returned to her but did not issue a declaration which she had applied, that she had the right to keep, use and import the CDs.

On June 23, 2015, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's decision and ordered the Home Minister to return the eight CDs after dismissing the ministry's appeal against the high court's decision.

The Court of Appeal ordered the Ministry to return the CDs within one month from the date of the decision.

The panel also ordered the High Court to hear her application for a declaration that she could keep, use and import the CDs.

 

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