On 7 November 2013, we received a question from Mr Peter Lau Hui Han:-
What is your legal opinion of the recent court of appeal decision on allah.
Dear Peter,

Upon our perusal on all three (3) judgments from the Court of Appeal (COA), there are two (2) issues decided by the COA:-

  1. Whether the imposition of the condition on the publication permit, namely the word “Allah” is prohibited in the Malay version of “Herald – the Catholic Weekly” was in accordance to the laws; and
  2. Whether the decision of Home Minister has infringed the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of KL’s (“Appellant”) constitutional rights to profess, practice and propagate Christianity.

The decisions are the imposition of the condition by Home Minister is in accordance to the laws and such decision has not infringed the constitutional rights of the Appellant. We also noted that:-

  1. All the Learned Judges have reasoned that the usage of “Allah” in Herald is likely to confuse Malaysian community, especially the Christian and Muslim community and as a result of which would threaten the national security and public harmony.
  2. Justice Zawawi Bin Salleh has taken judicial notice of the historical background of the word “Allah” in dept, and decided that the usage of “Allah” is not an integral part of the religion of Christian, hence does not attract the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religions.

We are not in the position to comment the decision of our COA as the Learned Judges had made ruling on the Allah issue after much deliberated considerations and submission by the counsels. The law shall stand as of now until the said ruling is overturned by our Federal Court, the apex court in Malaysia.

It is pertinent to note that we shall be bound by the principle of stare decisis (let the decision stand) as our country is practising common law legal system. Bearing in mind, the Federal Court may also reverse its decision in future by distinguishing the facts of the case.

Further, in lieu of this issue, the Parliament may seek to legislate in respect of the issues once and for all.