The Home Ministry clarified that The Herald's permit for publication has not been revoked and that the renewal of its permit for 2010 is in process.
"There was never an issue of revoking the permit for The Herald," explained an official from the publication control and Al-Quran text division.
He told Malaysiakini that the last letter sent to The Herald in September was a notification that the application to publish in the Kadazan-Dusun language was not approved, and that a refund of the permit fee could be made.
The reason being, he said, is that The Herald paid its permit fees too early."We will only process the permit three months before the old permit expires, as in this case it is in January 2010.
The ministry will give the option for a refund if monies were paid prior to the three months.The official said that it was a norm for the ministry to send applicants a letter to remind them of an option to claim refunds for fees paid too early.
This is so they could pay the ministry closer to the expiry date.He said that the confusion arose from a misunderstanding, stressing that the Home Ministry did not have issues with The Herald.
He also added that the 'Allah' ban is a pending court case and should not be tied to the issue of the permit.Herald insists permit application was rejected.
Meanwhile, the letter that was sent from the Home Ministry on Sept 3 was titled Refund for the publication titled Herald-The Catholic Weekly'.It further reads: "This is to inform you that the application for the change of language is not approved. Therefore, the Ministry will refund the money that was paid."And the letter further goes on to explain the procedure to obtain the refund.
Editor of The Herald, Father Lawrence, however, declined to comment on the explanations given by the Home Ministry, as there will be a meeting between the parties later today."I do not want to comment on this. All I am saying is, I have the letter and let the facts speaks for themselves," said Father Lawrence.
Earlier this week, there were reports that the Home Ministry has cancelled the approval of the renewal of the permit to The Herald.Father Lawrence was mystified as to why the approval was cancelled as no reasons were given.
The Herald newspaper, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics in four languages, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the disputed word.The Roman Catholic Church is still waging a legal battle, which started two years ago, with authorities over the use of the word 'Allah'.