Malaysia

‘Allah’ CD case: Lawyers want affidavit on Christian solution included in appeal

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
May 09, 2012

PUTRAJAYA, May 9 — A Sarawak Christian woman’s appeal against the High Court decision to disallow cross-examination of former Home Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar has been postponed to tomorrow.

Lawyers for Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill today demanded the Court of Appeal first include a recent affidavit by Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) executive secretary-general Tan Kong Beng in the appeal proceedings, arguing that it is relevant for the case.

“They want an affidavit by the CFM secretary-general, who says that the prime minister had written a letter to the CFM,” lawyer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, who is representing the government told reporters.

The said letter was in reference to Putrajaya’s “10-point solution” presented to the CFM on April 11 last year to resolve longstanding interfaith disputes.

Among other things stated in the letter included the Cabinet’s position on the distribution of Malay-language Bibles throughout Malaysia.

“The affidavit has not been administered in court yet, so you cannot write about it.

“It (the affidavit) was never considered by the High Court judge in her decision, why introduce it now,” said Awang Armadajaya.

The High Court dismissed on July 12 last year Jill’s application to cross-examine Syed Hamid Albar for issuing orders to confiscate her religious CDs three years ago.

Rohana ruled that opportunities to cross-examine witnesses were only granted in “rare cases” and that this case did not fall within that category.

She said that Syed Hamid’s affidavit was sufficient for use in the trial as the CDs were confiscated in order to safeguard national security.

Court of Appeal judges Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail, Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi and Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim said they will deliver the decision on the affidavit bid tomorrow at 9am, and proceed with the appeal after that.

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.