Two education-centric groups said they are suing the government for allowing vernacular schools to exist in the country
Through their lawyers, the Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) and the Islam Education Development Council (MAPPIM) said on Monday, 16 December, that they are seeking the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of vernacular schools, reported Malay Mail.
The groups claim the existence of these schools is against Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution that stipulates the Malay language as the national language.
The group claimed that Section 2, 17, and 28 of the Education Act 1996 that allows Chinese and Indian schools to conduct their lessons in their native languages, are against said Article
According to The Borneo Post, they would also like the High Court to declare that vernacular schools go against Article 5 (Right to a dignified life), 8 (Equality), 10 (Freedom of speech, assembly, and association), 11 (Freedom in religion), and 12 (Rights in respect of education) of the Federal Constitution.
In addition, they wish for Putrajaya to ensure that the vernacular school curriculum is in line with other national schools within the six years of the Court's ruling.
The lawyers said GPMS and MAPPIM supported third languages such as Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic, and Kadazan, and others including Japanese and Korean, to be taught as language subjects
The group's lawsuit follows a recent case where a lawyer also aimed to seek declaration from the Federal Court about the existence of vernacular schools
Filed on 23 October, Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz sought that it was unconstitutional for Parliament to pass amendments to Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act 1996.
However, the Federal Court ruled that such challenges must first be made in the High Court and dismissed his application to obtain leave to pursue his challenge.
In the most recent development, according to Malay Mail, Mohd Khairul sought the proper forum and filed a second lawsuit yesterday morning, 17 December.
"We re-filed our suit in the High Court so that issues pertaining to vernacular schools would be able to be determined by the High Court, once and for all," he said.
When asked about the lawsuit filed by GPMS and MAPPIM to challenge the constitutionality of vernacular schools, he replied in the affirmative that they were aware.
"We are aware but we don't know the details. We have no idea what they intend to do with their respective case or cases. We are on our own and they are on their own. Basically, that's the situation," he said.