Islam can't override citizens’ basic rights: dissenting judge

Chief Judge Richard Malanjum said the various documents, which formed the basic foundation of the Federation, must not be cast aside as mere historical artifacts.

Malaysia
Jul 08 2014, 3:14 PM
Islam can't override citizens’ basic rights: dissenting judge
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum, one of the three dissenting judges in the ‘Allah’ row, said that Islam as the religion of the Federation under Article 3 should not be used to override the basic rights accorded to citizens.

"It is disquieting to note in this (Allah) case, that in determining the ranking of importance of the various Articles in the constitution, the Court of Appeal seems to have adopted the ‘first-com-first served basis’ approach," he said in his judgment made available to the media yesterday.

On June 23, the Catholic Church's battle over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in their weekly publication ended after a seven-member bench of the  Federal Court dismissed its leave application to appeal the ban.

Malanjum said if the numerical ranking of provisions argument was accepted, it could also lead to an interpretation that the judiciary was inferior to the legislature and the executive.

The Constitution first discusses the makeup of the legislature, the executive and finally the judiciary.

Under the Malaysian constitutional scheme, the legislature, executive and judiciary are equal, as the three branches act as check and balance to one another.

"Surely the drafters and the founding fathers of the Federation would not have anticipated such an approach. Further, the basic structure of the constitution is sacrosanct," he added.

Malanjum said the various documents, which formed the basic foundation of the Federation, must not be cast aside as mere historical artifacts.

Under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, an applicant must show the apex court that there were contentious constitutional issues raised or important legal questions which needed further argument that would be of public advantage.

The church had submitted 28 questions which centred around key constitutional and administrative law, as well as the power of the court to allow the home minister to ban the use of the word "Allah" in Herald.

On October 14 last year, Court of Appeal judge, Mohamad Apandi Ali,  said the prohibition was to prevent any confusion among the various religions.

He had also said that national security and public order could be threatened if the publisher of Herald was allowed to use the word.

Apandi had explained that the government did not violate the church’s constitutional rights, and that all other religions could be pracitised in peace and harmony with Islam.

Apandi said restrictions were imposed on non-Islamic religions to prevent the propagation of their faiths on Muslims in this country.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

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