By Free Malaysia Today

The home ministry banned the book in 2020 on grounds that it was deemed an undesirable publication. — GERAK BUDAYA

A publisher and an author have won their legal challenge in the High Court here to revoke the government’s ban against their book, Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective.

Judge Noorin Badaruddin granted Gerakbudaya’s Chong Ton Sin and writer Ngeo Boon Lin’s judicial review today.

The home ministry had in 2020 banned the book under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act on grounds that it was deemed an undesirable publication. The book was published in 2013.

In her ruling, Noorin said the government “failed to show evidence of actual prejudice to public order that had occurred”.

In such a situation, she said, the book was “unlikely to be prejudicial to public order”.

Home minister Hamzah Zainudin had earlier affirmed an affidavit to oppose the judicial review bid by Chong and Ngeo, claiming that the book had a tendency to incite the people to hold mass protests and, subsequently, create chaos.

The judge also said Chong and Ngeo were never given the right to be heard by the government to counter the allegations against them.

“A decision-maker who makes a decision inconsistent with a legitimate expectation, and the person affected by such decision ought to be afforded procedural fairness and adequate opportunity of presenting his case against the decision.

“In the instant matter, because the book – again I must reiterate – has been in circulation for some time, this 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 principles of fairness guaranteed under the Federal Constitution are violated,” she said.

The court awarded RM5,000 in costs to Chong and Ngeo, who were represented by Edmund Bon and Michael Cheah. Federal counsel Sallehuddin Md Ali appeared for the home ministry.