No doubt the government can appeal and the appellate courts may yet uphold the Home Ministry's fatuous argument that the term 'Allah' is exclusive to Muslim worship.
But if somebody is keen on showing that the courts in Malaysia are impartial and the judiciary independent, then it would be expedient to demonstrate this in decisions whose import would be considered far less damaging to the government's self-image of religious uprightness.
By this count, the term 'Allah' can be used by the Catholic publication, The Herald, but would-be apostate Lina Joy cannot be allowed to renounce the religion she was born into even though the Federal Constitution allows citizens freedom of religion.
One need not be cynical to suggest, based on the track record, that the courts in this country have a pliable attitude to jurisprudential theories and socio-political imperatives.
This is all very well insofar as one accepts that the law is not a precise science but a process of reasoning in which diverse answers might all be right depending on the perspective and social objectives which subjectively provide the greatest moral satisfaction.
It's no slur on judges to say that they may decide cases first and determine the principles afterwards.
When a high-octane case comes before the courts, it enters a welter of discursive imperatives.
These are to find a just result; to achieve a result consistent with results of comparable past cases; to produce a result most beneficial to society by avoiding moral hazard, which exists when a decision encourages perverse behaviour; to mete out punishment and excuse the good; and to sculpt legal doctrine to fit changing social mores and standards.
All these imperatives factor when a judge decides a case, including one that is barely acknowledged – crafting an outcome consonant with his or her politics.
Thus former Umno lawyer and now chief justice, Zaki Azmi, can claim as defense against any imputation of bias that he will not sit on any cases involving the party and then allow judges who have already rendered verdicts on the Umno-led takeover of the Perak government to be on the Federal Court panel as final arbiters of the question of which coalition has the right to rule the state.
Nice dodge that, but it will not wash.
No signs of penetration
It will require not just a dodge but a leap to convict Anwar of sodomy because the settled law in cases like his is that penetration must be medically proven for a finding of guilt.
It is known that the two medical reports on the condition of relevant body parts of Anwar's alleged crime showed no signs of having been penetrated.
Sans evidence of penetration, the Attorney General's Chambers soldiers on. And the government, despite the chastening experience of the 1999 general election when Umno lost 20 seats to the opposition largely because of shaky corruption and sodomy convictions against Anwar, is again willing to risk defeat at the next general election – they would have lost their two-thirds majority in 1999 had PAS not insisted on an Islamic state agenda.
The government must belief they have a case against Anwar, albeit one without a smoking gun – medical evidence of penetration. Otherwise it's hard to credit them their grasp of reality.
Pundits are inclined to think that the Chinese saying – “May you live in interesting times” – was preternaturally crafted as a sardonic commentary on the goings-on in Malaysian politics, so fecund with the unexpected.
Sure, as the well-placed know, the facts behind the published political news in Malaysia are always eye-popping. But in the era of a free blogosphere, the curtains are drawing down on that reality. A very good thing that.