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De-gazetting Christian holidays ‘legal’

By Joseph Bingkasan
KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu High court has struck off with cost a suit against the Sabah Legislative Assembly for abolishing three Christian public holidays.

The High Court ruled yesterday that the Sabah Government’s decision to abolish Easter Monday, Holy Saturday and Boxing Day as public holidays 34 years ago was in accordance with the State Constitution.
Accordingly Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru struck out with cost a suit by a local lawyer against the state administration for de-gazetting the holidays in 1979.

The judge, who ruled that the law to revoke the gazette was passed properly, ordered lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph to pay RM1,000 to the defendant.

Paramaguru held that the subject matter of state holidays is for the state admnistration to decide following the legislative list of the Federal Constitution.

Joseph who filed the suit on April 20, last year had among others, applied for a declaration that the de-gazetting and abolition of the day following Good Friday and Easter Monday as public holidays was unlawful and ultra vires Article 11 of the Federal Constitution and the Holidays Ordinance of Sabah.

He also sought for an order that the defendant re-gazettes and reinstates the day following Christmas Day as a public holiday.

The lawyer, who appeared himself, claimed that the de-gazetting was done without consultation with the Christian population and Christian leaders in Sabah and that this infringed his right of religious freedom guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

Joseph respected the court decision but would be filing an appeal with the hope that within the next five years `we will get our holidays back.’
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