You don’t have that power, Home Minister!

An opinion on why the High Court was correct in its application of the law in respect of the ‘Allah’ issue and the Court of Appeal should affirm that decision.

By Richard Wee

The ‘Allah’ decision back in middle January by the High Court of Malaya may include the subject matter of the word ‘Allah’ but the legal substance and principle matter in issue in that case is the extent of the Home Minister’s power to curtail the usage of a certain word.

I do not wish to bore the readers with a legal cross reference of this case and that statute, but safe to say, the High Court Judge in that case had to decide if a Home Minister can ban the word, like ‘Allah’, from being used by non-muslims. This is significant! For, if the High Court confirms that the Home Minister has such a power, then the next question to ask is ‘To what extent?’.

It is simple logic. If a Home Minister can ban usage of that word, can it also mean that the Home Minister can also ban words like ‘Tuhan’, ‘Geraja’, ‘Masjid’ etc. Is it also possible that if the Home Minister is a big football fan, and happen to support a team like, say Everton; can he ban that name from being used by any other fan? And to add into that ban that any usage of that word by a non-fan will be dealt with by the law?

The High Court has, in my view, correctly decided the issue, and held that the Minister does not have such a power. A perusal of the Federal Constitution and the relevant Federal statutes, clearly demonstrates that the law does not accord such a power to the Home Minister.

To cut a long argument short – the Home Minister does not have the power to ban such words of any words, for that matter.

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