MIRI (March 21): Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Baram is calling on the state government to apply to intervene in Putrajaya’s appeal against a court’s ruling that allows the Christians to use the word “Allah” to show its seriousness in the issue.
Its chairman, who is also PKR Sarawak vice president Roland Engan said PKR Baram opined that the state government was not serious in allowing the use of the word “Allah” by the Christians in Sarawak as it never applied to intervene in the case of Jill Ireland v Home Minister years ago.
“The act of issuing public statement by Sarawak government is not actually an act of seriousness in allowing the word of “Allah” to be used in Sarawak,” he said, referring to a statement issued by the Chief Minister Office (CMO) last week, which stated that the Sarawak government stance on the issue has always been consistent in upholding religious tolerance.
Roland said since the case was now pending appeal, PKR Baram wanted to see the state government and Majlis Agama Islam Sarawak to make the necessary application to intervene and be made a party in the appeal and thereafter, do the necessary to object to the appeal by the Home Minister.
“Whether the intervener’s application is allowed or not, it will be a secondary issue because the Sarawak government and or Majlis Agama Islam Sarawak could still have opportunity to apply to hold watching brief in the appeal,” he added.
On March 10, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that the Christians nationwide could use the word “Allah” and three other Arabic words – Baitullah, Kaabah and Solat in their religious publications for educational purposes.
Court of Appeal Judge, Judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin sitting as the High Court Judge allowed a judicial review application by Sarawakian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill on a 1986 circular that banned the Christians from using the word “Allah” in their publications.
The judge ruled that the ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications was unlawful and unconstitutional, after 13 years of legal battle between the government and Jill Ireland, a Christian woman from Sarawak.