Multiple Parties Are Suing Putrajaya Over The Existence Of Vernacular Schools

The groups claim these schools go against the Federal Constitution which states that the Malay language is the national language.

Cover image via Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail & Kinta Properties

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.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bernama/Malay Mail

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.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Rebuilding Malaysia

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

"However they should reject subjects being taught in any other language other than the national language," said their representing law firm, Messrs Amelda Fuad Abi & Aidil, with Haniff Khatri Abdulla as their lead counsel, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Muhammad Sulaiman/New Straits Times

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.

Lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz.

Image via Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail

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.

The issue of abolishing vernacular schools in Malaysia is age-old:

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