Thursday, 10 May 2012

Christian fails in bid to quiz Syed Hamid over ‘Allah’ CD ban

May 10, 2012
Former Home minister Syed Hamid Albar. — File pic
PUTRAJAYA, May 10 — The Court of Appeal has dismissed a Sarawak Christian woman's bid to cross-examine former Home Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar for issuing orders to confiscate her religious CDs three years ago.

The High Court dismissed on July 12 last year Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill application to cross-examine Syed Hamid Albar, and ruled that opportunities to cross-examine witnesses were only granted in “rare cases” and that this case did not fall within that category.

Court of Appeal judges Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail, Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi and Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim upheld the High Court's decision, saying it was a "unanimous" one.

"The court allows the appeal to be filed to the extent of the garis panduan Jakim (the Malaysian Islamic department guidelines). The rest of the appeal is dismissed," Abdul Wahab said.

The judge also ruled that there would be no order to costs, and that a written judgment would be given to both parties as soon as possible.

Speaking to reporters outside of court, Jill's lawyer Annou Xavier said he viewed the ruling positively as they could not "scrutinise" Jakim's rationale in banning the usage of "Allah" in texts and written materials of other faiths.

"We can now scrutinise how Jakim has come to decide on the ban on the word 'Allah', as well as what is a breach of Jakim guidelines," said the lawyer.

When asked whether he would take the matter to the Federal Court, Xavier said "I'll have to consult my client first."

"Case management for judicial review challenging the then-home minister's ban has been fixed at the High Court on June 7," he added.

Jill filed her application for judicial review on August 20, 2008 and was given leave to challenge the Home Ministry’s seizure of her religious CDs on May 4, 2009.

She is seeking a certiorari order to quash the ministry’s decision and a mandamus order directing the minister to return the CDs.

She is also seeking a declaration that she has legitimate expectation to exercise her right to use the word “Allah” and to continue to own as well as import such materials.

The disputed materials were confiscated from Jill’s possession after she disembarked at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang on May 11, 2008 upon returning from a trip to Indonesia.

The CD titles include “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “Cara Menggunakan Kunci Kerajaan Allah”, “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”.

Jill, a Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) member, contends that she uses the word “Allah” in all her prayers, worship and religious education, and that the CDs were for personal consumption.

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