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Monday, March 16, 2009

The problem with the "Allah" ban

For the benefit of Linundus followers and to keep them abreast with this issue, I reproduce herewith what mt.m2day and the thenutgraph had published this morning:-

“Because Section 8(1) of the ISA allows for detention without trial on persons who are deemed a threat to national security, the Home Ministry's move to place the ruling under the ISA effectively turned a religious matter into a national security issue.

By Deborah Loh and Shanon Shah, The Nut Graph

IT is bewildering that a gazette on such a significant matter of public interest as the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims was issued and then rescinded just 24 hours after it was announced.

Did not Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar spot the mistake in the ruling, which he signed? The gazette, it must be noted, was published on 16 Feb but was only announced on 26 Feb.

The fiasco illustrates how citizens can wake up one morning to find themselves subject to new laws their legislators in Parliament had little chance to debate — and the very next day, to find the laws have changed, again without debate.

Such arbitrariness in a process as important as making laws that affect citizens should be questioned. Indeed, what is a gazette? What powers are invested in the executive branch of government to pass gazettes, and is there room for dissent?

What is a gazette?

Nazri Aziz "The passing of laws that do not go through Parliament for approval, but become law after being published in the Government Gazette, is an administrative way of making laws," explains Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

"When we gazette that such and such words cannot be used (for example in the case of 'Allah'), it carries the enforcement of the law with it," he says in an interview in Parliament.

One recent example of a law that was enforced administratively is the rear seat belt ruling that took effect on 1 Jan 2009 under the Road Transport Act 1987.

The British Westminster parliamentary system allows for supplementary laws to be passed in this manner, provided that they are made under a specific Act. The Act itself is what has to be debated in Parliament, explains lawyer Sharmila Sekaran.

The parties involved in passing laws administratively are the relevant minister, the civil servants who draft the ruling, and the ministry's legal adviser or the Attorney-General's Chambers, which would be consulted in some cases.

"Practically, we must bear in mind that often, the minister has little real working knowledge in a particular area and thus will rely on advisers or civil servants," Sharmila says of the work that goes into drafting a law.”

Read More Here

"Meanwhile, the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC), through its counsel Jagjit Singh, informed the court that MGC wanted to submit a representation to the Attorney-General's Chambers in not making this issue a confrontation.

Jagjit said the issue (the use of the word "Allah") had arisen in Perak 10 years ago (in 1988), but the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had advised the parties involved in the case not to pursue the matter. 

He urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to consider adopting the same approach."

Read More Here.

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