Jawi scripts on signboards does not infringe Federal Constitution – Appeals Court rules

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal has rejected the appeal of two Kuantan businessmen over the usage of Jawi on signboards at their premises.

The three-member panel chaired by appellate court judge Datuk Yaacob Md Sam in an unanimous decision ruled that there was no irrationality, or unreasonableness or unlawfulness of the directive by the state authority to implement the use of Jawi script on signages on business premises.

“The policy did not infringe Article 5 or Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. Thus, we dismiss the appeal of the appellants. The order of the High Court is affirmed. As this was a matter that involved public interest, no order as to cost,” said the judge via online proceedings.

The other two judges on the bench were Datuk Ravinthran Paramaguru and Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

The businessmen namely Jehan Abdullah and Dana Palan Arunachalam were appealing against the Kuantan High Court’s decision on Aug 5, 2021, which, among others, ruled that they had no locus standi to bring the legal action because they merely held a business licence but did not own the business premises.

Among others, the High Court also noted that Jawi script can be used to convey the meaning in Bahasa Melayu, and therefore constitutes part of the national language.

Initially, Jehan and Dana Palan were also joined by another man, namely, Phang Long Yen in their judicial review application against the Kuantan Municipal Council and the Pahang government in 2020.

However, Phang has since passed away, and was not a party to today’s appeal.

Among others, the businessmen sought an order to revoke the Kuantan Municipal Council’s directions in an April 2019 letter for businesses to use Jawi on signboards on their premises.

They also sought an order to quash the state executive council’s decision on March 1, 2018 to uplift the use of Jawi.

They also wanted a declaration that Section 107 (2) of the Local Government Act 1976 is against Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that states everyone is equal.

The provision states that every licence or permit granted shall be subject to conditions and restrictions, as the local authority may think fit, and shall be revocable at any time without giving a reason.

It was reported that the Pahang state government decided in 2018 that all business premises and road signs would use Jawi writing in efforts to uplift the use of Jawi.

Those who fail to use Jawi script on their signboards can be fined up to RM250, and have their business licences revoked, if they refuse to comply with the directive. – Bernama