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Saturday, January 3, 2009

> Herald to sue Government

A Catholic newspaper today threatened legal action against the government after being told to stop publishing its Malay language edition in a row over its use of the word "Allah."

The Herald, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God," with authorities saying "Allah" should be used only by Muslims.

Now the newspaper has been told it must stop publishing its Malay edition while the issue is resolved in the courts, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English, Chinese and Tamil.

Archbishop 'totally perplexed' 

Murphy Pakiam (right), the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and publisher of the weekly newspaper, said in a letter to the Home Ministry that it had seven days to revoke its decision or face legal action.

He said he was "totally perplexed" over the suspension which "reeks of ill will and bad faith" and was effectively a punishment for the legal battle that is due to be settled next month.

"We are therefore advised and verily believe that this condition constitutes a serious violation of our constitutional freedom of expression and speech," he said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by AFP.

The Herald's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has said that more than half Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, most of whom live on the Borneo island states and who mainly speak Malay - Malaysiakini.