Lawyers says Guan Eng spot on regarding Allah issue

Lim Guan Eng-Allah

Lawyers say Penang CM was merely quoting trite law that clearly states fatwas do not apply to non-Muslims.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Despite admonishment from Home Minister Zahid Hamidi that the Penang chief minister had no “executive power” to tell non-Muslims they could use the word Allah freely, many in the law fraternity have stepped forward in support of Lim Guan Eng, saying his statement was accurate and well within the confines of the law.

According to the Malay Mail Online, New Sin Yew, a constitutional lawyer said Lim was right in that fatwas do not apply to non-Muslims.

“That is trite law”, New said, adding, “All that Lim did was state the position of the law, which he did accurately.”

Backing up his statement by citing the Federal Court’s decision in Sulaiman bin Takrib v Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu (2009) 6 MLJ 354, New said that the fatwa council had the right to gazette any fatwa of its choice but had to bear in mind that it was only applicable to Muslims, and not non-Muslims.

Echoing this legal opinion was adjunct professor Baljit Singh Sidhu who said Lim’s statement was well within the confines of the law as there was nothing prohibiting the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

“Islamic fatwa only apply to Muslims. The fatwa is not a law,” Baljit explained adding, “The Yang diPertua Negeri can make rulings for Muslim followers in the state but it doesn’t bind non-Muslims.”

Also weighing in on this issue was Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee chairperson Firdaus Husni who said, “Unlike some other states like Selangor, for example, Penang does not have the provision equivalent to Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment No 1 of 1988 prohibiting use of certain words by non-Muslims in the state, including Allah.”