When were Malay rulers consulted, PAS leaders asks Anwar

Takiyuddin Hassan and Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man say the prime minister had not been clear in his explanation on the withdrawal of the appeal in the ‘Allah’ issue.

(FMT) – Several PAS leaders have questioned Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that Malay rulers were consulted before Putrajaya withdrew its appeal against a court ruling on a Sarawakian woman’s right to use “Allah” in her religious learning.

Anwar had told the Dewan Rakyat earlier the matter was referred to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who asked the government to ensure that all decisions must be in line with the position taken by the rulers.

PAS secretary-general and Kota Bharu MP Takiyuddin Hassan said it was not made clear when such consultation had taken place.

“He (Anwar) didn’t mention the date of the meeting (with the Malay rulers), or the date of his meeting with the Agong. Was this before or after the appeal was withdrawn?” he said at a press conference at the Parliament building.

Takiyuddin also questioned why the attorney-general (AG), who initially advised the government to file the application to appeal, had now advised otherwise.

“Does this make sense? We haven’t heard from the AG, and we leave it to him to explain this,” he said.

PAS deputy president and Kubang Kerian MP Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Anwar’s answer in the Dewan Rakyat had created doubt as the appeal had been filed on the request of the Johor, Selangor and Kedah rulers.

Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin of Bersatu had also been among those who had questioned if the government consulted the Malay rulers before deciding to withdraw its appeal against the High Court ruling.

In March 2021, the High Court, in a landmark decision, ruled that Sarawakian Jill Ireland can use the word “Allah” for the purpose of religious education in Malay and her native Melanau language.

Then High Court judge Nor Bee Ariffin said a Dec 5, 1986 home ministry directive to prohibit the use of the words “Allah”, “Baitullah”, “Solat” and “Kaabah” by non-Muslims was illegal.

Last week, FMT reported that the government decided to abandon its appeal against the High Court ruling. The Attorney-General’s Chambers, representing the home ministry, notified the Court of Appeal on April 18 that it did not wish to pursue the appeal.

In January, the Selangor, Kedah and the Federal Territories religious councils were made amici curiae (friends of the court) after having withdrawn their applications to intervene in the government’s appeal.

In September 2021, the Johor Islamic religious council withdrew a similar application.