By Rahmat Khairulrijal | New Straits Times
The High Court has lifted the ban on the distribution of controversial book Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective in the country.
Judge Datuk Noorin Badaruddin today allowed a judicial review filed by the book’s publisher and its author Gerakbudaya Enterprise and Ngeo Boon Lin, respectively.
Noorin in her judgment said the government failed to show evidence of actual prejudice to public order that had occurred.
“It is a finding of this court that there is no evidence and/or legal factual basis for the minister’s justification which formed the basis of the ban.
“After more than seven years of its publication, the respondent failed to show evidence of actual prejudice to public order that had occurred.
“The book was in the first place unlikely to be prejudicial to public order,” she said, adding that the right to express one’s view is part of the citizen’s right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“That right of course has its limitation,” she said.
The court awarded RM5,000 costs to Chong and Ngeo, who were represented by Edmund Bon and Michael Cheah.
Gerakbudaya and Ngeo had filed their legal action through law firm Messrs AmerBon at the High Court here on Feb 17 last year.
They filed the judicial review leave application to revoke the ban order dated Nov 27 last year.
In their legal action, they claimed that the Home Minister had no legal and factual basis to impose the ban as it is not likely for the book to be prejudicial to public order, morality, and public interest.
They claimed that the ban was irrational and a disproportionate violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to equal treatment under the Federal Constitution.
The applicants said there were no untoward incidents caused by the book which has been in publication for over seven years, adding that Part One of the book had already been published in the period from 2010 to 2011.
They said the Home Minister had failed to provide reasons as to how the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order and identify the parts deemed prejudicial.
The two applicants also claimed that they came to know of the ban from online media reports published on Dec 18, 2020 following a media statement issued by chief secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz on the same day.
Bernama reported that on Nov 27, 2020, the Home Ministry had gazetted a prohibition order on the publications of the book under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
Wan Ahmad Dahlan said it was absolutely prohibited to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell circulate, distribute, or own the publication in the country.
He said the contents of the publication Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective was viewed as an attempt to promote homosexual culture in Malaysia, which goes against religious and cultural sensitivities in the country.