MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, May 10, 2021

In court papers, govt says vernacular schools part of education system


The government says the existence of national-type Chinese and Tamil schools is constitutional.

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya has taken the position that vernacular schools have a right to exist in the education system, in response to a suit filed by three organisations.

It has also pleaded that the education system is based on numerous factors and, consequently, it is a non-justiciable issue to be brought to court for deliberation.

“The education ministry and the government are pleading that the existence of national-type Chinese and Tamil schools is constitutional,” the government said in its defence filed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in the High Court here last month.

In court papers sighted by FMT, the government also states that the three plaintiffs – the Association of Peninsular Malaysia Students (GPMS), the Islamic Educational Development Council (Mappim) and the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena) – do not have the locus standi to commence the court action.

The three groups filed the action last year, seeking a declaration that Sections 2, 17 and 28 of the Education Act 1996, which allow the setting up of vernacular schools to use Chinese and Tamil as their main languages, is inconsistent with Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution.

They want a declaration that the existence of these schools is contrary to Article 5 (right to honourable living), Article 8 (equality), Article 10 (right of expression), Article 11 (freedom of religion) and Article 12 (right of education).

They also want the government to take steps to ensure that the existence of these schools complies with Article 152(1) within six months should the court make a decision in their favour.

The plaintiffs have also pleaded that the existence of national-type schools which use Chinese and Tamil as their main medium of instruction is a policy decision but is inconsistent with the constitution.

The plaintiffs, whose legal team is led by lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, said their members are taxpayers who contribute to the sustenance of vernacular schools.

Apart from the government, four political parties – MIC, MCA, Gerakan and Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia – have joined in as defendants.

The other organisations who have also been named as defendants are Chinese educationist groups Dong Zong and Jiao Zong, Persatuan Thamizhar Malaysia, Persatuan Tamilar Thurunal (Perak), Persatuan Gabungan Kebajikan Guru-Guru Bersara Sekolah Tamil, the Malaysian Chinese Language Council, Persatuan Malaysia Tamil Neri Kalagam, Gabungan Persatuan Bekas Pelajar Sekolah Tamil Malaysia and SMJK Chong Hwa.

The Malaysian Chinese Language Council, Malaysia Tamil Neri Kalagam and Gabungan Persatuan Pelajar Tamil Malaysia, in their defence, said tax collected from non-Muslims was also being used to fund Islamic religious schools.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan, who is representing them, said he has instructions to strike out some paragraphs in the plaintiffs’ amended statement of claim.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali has fixed a case management on May 25. He has also fixed a four-day trial from Nov 22. - FMT

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