The Sabah Law Association (SLA) categorically denies that a decision was made on October 26, 2013 at the executive committee meeting to “stand side by side with the Catholic Church when the Allah case goes before the Federal Court” as was reported in The Malaysian Insider website.
The SLA does, however, take cognisance of the materiality, serious significance and sensitivity of the matter by all parties concerned.
There are clearly far-reaching consequences of the Court of Appeal decision vis-a-vis the relevant Articles of the Federal Constitution and the 1963 Malaysian Agreement.
The mainstream and online media has carried numerous reports and academic opinions concerning the issue of whether the Home Ministry’s ban of the use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Catholic weekly Herald publication is lawful.
The SLA notes that the matter has also received widespread coverage between religious and constitutional experts, non-govemmental organisations and politicians on both sides of the divide.
The SLA notes from the media reports that the Catholic Church will be making an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court on the Court of Appeal decision to overturn the High Court’s decision in due course.
The matter is thus deemed “sub judice”, meaning “under judgment”.
The court proceedings are on-going and the matter is therefore very much deemed a “live” issue to be determined by the apex court of the nation.
It is for this very reason that in SLA’s view, it is thus considered inappropriate to comment publicly on this case, which can be an offence in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings.
The likely implications are that there is a danger of this delicate issue being tried by the media before the Federal Court has heard substantive submissions of the relevant parties.
Therefore, it would be presumptuous of the SLA to make a stand or comment publicly on the issue at this stage, which may be seen as anticipating the outcome of the application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court or the appeal proper for that matter.
To do so may compromise the position of the SLA, even more so if the SLA is going to be an “amicus curiae” (a friend of the court) at the invitation of the Federal Court or upon application by the SLA for the proceedings in the Federal Court.
This decision whether to apply to be an “amicus curae” has not been deliberated by the executive committee of the SLA yet.
The SLA will opine that a Judgment or Order of the Court of Appeal is binding on the parties to the decision and that such Judgment or Order should be respected until it has been overturned or distinguished.
This statement is necessary to correct and clarify the SLA’S stand and position on the “Allah” matter and in relation to a recent article in the online media with the headline “Sabah lawyers offer to stand with Catholic Church in appeal against Allah ruling”.