AG’s Chambers orders cops to refine probe on Catholic priest

File photo shows the editor of the Catholic weekly, Herald, Father Lawrence Andrew (right) speaking to reporters after questioning by Selangor police under the Sedition Act 1948, while his lawyer Francis Pereira stands beside him on January 7, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

By Joseph Sipalan, The Malay Mail

The Attorney-General’s Chambers ordered Selangor police today to refine their sedition investigation on Catholic priest, Rev. Father Lawrence Andrew, scant hours after receiving the file.

In a brief text message, Deputy Solicitor-General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah confirmed with The Malay Mail that the investigation papers have been sent back to the police.

“Yes,” he said when asked to verify a news report by news portal Malaysiakini that the prosecution wanted the police to delve deeper into the sedition complaints brought against Andrew.

The news portal quoted Tun Majid saying: “The chambers wanted further and refined investigations to be made on the matter. Hence, the papers have been returned to the police”.

Selangor police have submitted their investigation papers on the case to the public prosecutor this morning, state news agency Bernama reported earlier today.

Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said the investigation papers covered statements from 99 individuals, including Andrew.

The Catholic priest is being investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 for his statements in a news report late last month.

The Malaysian Insider had quoted the priest saying that the churches in Selangor will continue to use the Arabic word “Allah” during their worship to refer to God.

The editor of Catholic weekly, Herald, was called in for questioning yesterday after police received 86 complaints over his remarks in the news report.

Some Muslim groups burnt an effigy of the priest in protest over his statement.

Andrew is seen to be at the centre of a long-simmering religious row between Malaysia’s Muslim and Christian communities in their tussle for the right to use an Arabic word for God.

Interfaith tension rose after the Selangor Islamic Department raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and confiscated over 300 copies of the bible in Malay and Iban that contained the word “Allah”.

Despite global criticism, some Malaysian Muslim authorities and groups insist the word is exclusive to their religious community.

The government and the Catholic Church are currently embroiled in a legal tussle over the use of the word.

The case is now pending a February 24 hearing at the Federal Court, after the Court of Appeal overturned last year a 2009 High Court ruling in favour of the church.