By Bernama | The Sun Daily
The publisher and the author of the book Gay is Okay! A Christian Perspective today succeeded in their bid to remove the ban imposed on the book by the Home Minister in 2020.
High Court judge Datuk Noorin Badaruddin allowed the application by publisher Chong Ton Sin and author Ngeo Boon Lin for a judicial review to quash the prohibition order by the minister.
Judge Noorin, in her decision delivered via virtual proceedings, said there was no evidence or legal factual basis for the Home Minister’s justification which formed the basis of the ban.
“He (the minister) must be borne in mind that the book in question relates to homosexuality from a Christian perspective.
“Having read the entire book and understood it from an objective point of view, this court is of the view that apart from the compilation of articles written by the second applicant (Ngeo) which was published in the Malaysiakini portal sometime from 2010 to 2011, it consists of the author’s view from a Christian perspective on homosexuality, and rightly or wrongly, it may seem as regards to his content,” she said.
The judge said the book ought to be confined to that religion, even if there may be some subjective perception as to its content, evaluation, and worth.
She said after more than seven years of its publication, the respondents (the Home Minister and government) had failed to show evidence of actual prejudice to public order that had occurred.
“When no such evidence is produced, it follows that the book was in the first place unlikely to be prejudicial to public order. 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. However, a total ending of the entire book, which contains an expression of the author’s view, like in the instance case, without the applicant being given the right to be heard, or to counter the allegations against the book, is the considered view of this court an irrational decision as the book had been in circulation for some time,“ she added.
Judge Noorin further said that the court is of the considered view that there is a duty on the part of the minister to give reasons for his decision, more so in matters where freedom of expression is being stifled and where the principle of fairness guaranteed under the Federal Constitution is violated.
On Feb 17, 2021, the duo filed the judicial review claiming that the ban was irrational and disproportionate as no untoward incidents were triggered by the book since its publication over seven years ago.
They claimed that part one of the book had been published in the Malaysiakini portal from 2010 to 2011.
The applicants contended that the minister had failed to provide any reasons as to how the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order, which was likely to be prejudicial to morality and which was likely to be prejudicial to the public interest.
On Dec 18, 2020, Bernama reported that the Home Ministry has gazetted a prohibition order on a publication titled Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, effective Nov 27 the same year.
Lawyers Edmund Bon and Michael Cheah represented the applicants while federal counsel Mohammad Salehuddin Md Ali acted for the respondents.