CLS Press Statement: Unconstitutional Restrictions Imposed On Herald

The Catholic Lawyers' Society, Kuala Lumpur read with great disappointment the restrictions imposed by the Minister of Home Affairs in granting the printing and publishing permit of the Herald with the prohibition of the printing & publication of the Bahasa Malaysia segment in the Herald.

The Society is dismayed that the Minister prohibits the printing and publication of the Bahasa Malaysia segment of the Herald pending the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the use of the word `Allah' when the two are unrelated.

More importantly the High Court has not prohibited the continued printing and publication of the Bahasa Malaysia segment in the Herald.

This act of the Minister contravenes the Constitution, namely Articles 3(1), 10(1)(a), 11(1) & (3) that grants all, the right to freely practice one's religion, the general freedom of speech and expression and the right of every person and religious group to propagate and manage its own religious affairs.

The estimated number of Catholics in Peninsular Malaysia is 220,000. While the number of Catholics in Sabah and Sarawak is estimated at 715,000. The vast number of Catholics from East Malaysia converse in Bahasa Malaysia. There is also a sizeable number of Catholics in Peninsular Malaysia that are conversant in Bahasa Malaysia. The Bahasa Malaysia version of the Herald enables them to keep abreast with the affairs of the Catholic Church both locally and internationally.

By refusing the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia segment, the Minister has deprived these Catholics from receiving religious education in Bahasa Malaysia. The Society is baffled why the Minister has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut, when the Herald is only a weekly publication circulated at Churches for the Catholic community.

Bahasa Malaysia is the National Language of the country. No Malaysian should be deprived of the right to speak read write or even pray in our National Language. The authorities cannot and should not restrain the use of the National Language under any circumstances. It is a step backward to impose controls over the use of the National Language.

The Catholic Lawyers' Society, Kuala Lumpur calls on the Minister of Home Affairs to revoke its condition on the usage of the National Language immediately and issue an unconditional publication and printing permit of the Herald.

Mabel Sabastian
President
Catholic Lawyers’ Society
Kuala Lumpur

Dated 2nd Jan 2009

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