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Hamzah questions Anwar's claim that Malay rulers were consulted on 'Allah' appeal

The opposition leader refers to a call by the Sultan of Selangor to the prime minister to first refer the matter to an Islamic council that advises Malay rulers.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin.
Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin.

The opposition today raised questions on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's claim that he had consulted the Malay rulers before deciding to drop Putrajaya's appeal against the High Court's decision to allow the use of the word "Allah" in non-Muslim religious publications.

Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin said the statement by the Sultan of Selangor yesterday indicates that the issue had not been referred to the Council of Rulers as previously claimed.

"The statement on the Jill Ireland case was issued by the Tambun MP (Anwar) himself when he said it had been referred to the Council of Rulers," he told reporters at Parliament today, referring to the sultan's call on Anwar to refer the matter to the National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) which advises Malay rulers on Islamic affairs at the federal level.

"This means that this issue has not been referred to them yet," Hamzah said.

On May 15, the home ministry withdrew its appeal against the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court which ruled that Christians could use the word "Allah" and three other Arabic words in their religious publications for educational purposes.

Following protests from Muslim groups as well as former government leaders involved in the appeal, Anwar told the Dewan Rakyat that the decision to withdraw the appeal was taken after consulting the Agong.

"The decision (to drop the appeal) by the Cabinet on Feb 7 was to confirm the decision and advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, in line with the decision by the Council of Rulers that the word 'Allah' cannot be used, even if there are other views," Anwar had said.

Hamzah meanwhile also said a private motion by Jasin MP Zulkifli Ismail to amend the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 (Act 388) to boost enforcement of the use of the word "Allah" in the country was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker yesterday.

On March 10, 2021, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled in favour of an application filed by Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland, who sought a declaration that her constitutional rights were violated when the home ministry in 2008 seized Christian religious CDs and books using the term "Allah" under Section 9(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The court decision was followed by an appeal filed by Putrajaya, then under the Perikatan Nasional government headed by Muhyiddin Yassin.