PETALING JAYA- The Christian community will continue to use the word "Allah" in their Bibles, church services and gatherings despite the Federal Court's dismissal of the church's application for leave in The Herald case, said the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM).
"Given the refusal to grant The Roman Catholic Church leave to appeal, we will in proceeding with our actions and activities, therefore treat the decision of the Court of Appeal as being confined to the specific facts of that particular case," said CFM chairman Dr Eu Hong Seng in a statement on Monday.
"The Christian community continues to have the right to use the word 'Allah' in our Bibles, church services and Christian gatherings in our on-going ministry to our Bahasa Malaysia-speaking congregations, as we have done all this while," Eu said.
He said Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had previously pointed out in a statement issued on Oct 20 2013, that the case surrounds the usage of the word "Allah" in The Herald newspaper only.
"As legal adviser to the Malaysian government, we will hold him (Gani) and the government of Malaysia to that position," said Eu.
Eu said that on behalf of the CFM, he "is extremely disappointed" that the Federal Court has refused leave for the Roman Catholic Church to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal in The Herald case.
"We continue to maintain that the decision of the Court of Appeal, and its reasoning in arriving at their decision, were so critically flawed in so many respects," said Eu.
"Simple justice would have mandated an appeal, to rectify the many incorrect and inaccurate statements and observations of the Court of Appeal that led to its decision.
"Serious negative repercussions for the freedom of religion for the Christian community in Malaysia as a whole emanate from those statements and observations, but sadly the Roman Catholic Church has been denied the opportunity of challenging them before our apex court," he said.
Eu said that there are several pending cases in court that involve issues such as this.
"We will have to see whether these will provide alternative avenues to uphold and defend freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression in Malaysia," said Eu.
Four of the seven-man panel dismissed the church's application for leave to appeal at the Federal Court on Monday.
The Federal Court's decision not to grant leave effectively means that the decision of the Court of Appeal stands and there can be no more appeals by the Church.
The legal tussle goes back to 2009, when the Roman Catholic Church, led by Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, filed a judicial review application, naming the Home Ministry and the Government as respondents, seeking, among others, a declaration that the ministry's decision to prohibit the use of the word "Allah" in The Herald was illegal.
The Court of Appeal had set aside the Dec 31, 2009 decision of a High Court, which allowed the weekly to use the word after it declared the Home Ministry's decision in prohibiting the publication from using the word "Allah" was illegal, null and void.