Datuk Richard Wee. — Borneo Post Online pic
KUCHING, Dec 29 — The Board of Management of Chung Hua Middle Schools No. 1, 3, and 4 has welcomed the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to reject a lawsuit seeking the abolishment of Mandarin and Tamil as a medium of instruction in schools.
Board chairman Datuk Richard Wee said the court’s decision would hopefully put the matter to rest.
“We welcome the wise decision of the court which reflects the multicultural and multiracial society of ours.
“We hope that the decision of the court would put to rest once and for all this matter. We also hope that all these organisations can from here on learn to live with the founding principles of our nation and the right interpretation of our Federal Constitution,” Wee said when contacted today.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court today ruled that Malaysia’s vernacular schools are consistent with the Federal Constitution.
Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said in summary judgment that the Federal Constitution expressly protected teaching in mother tongues other than Bahasa Malaysia.
He also said that the plaintiffs Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS), Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim), and the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena) had failed to show how vernacular education had infringed on their personal liberty under the Constitution.
“Given that the use of Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools as a medium of instruction is constitutional as it is protected under the exceptions in Articles 152 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution, there is no basis to contend that the establishment and existence of vernacular schools are inconsistent with or infringe Articles 5, 8, 10, 11, and 12 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.
Mohd Nazlan also said vernacular schools are educational institutions under the Education Act 1996 and are not public or statutory authorities.
As such, he said it is not considered an offence if a language other than Malay is used as a medium of instruction, adding that this is safeguarded under Article 152 (1) (a) of the Federal Constitution.
The plaintiffs had initiated the lawsuit to push the government to prohibit vernacular schools.
They wanted the court to declare that such schools are unconstitutional, and even claimed their existence violated Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution that declared the Malay language as the national language.
The groups also claimed that Sections 2, 17, and 28 of the Education Act 1966, which allow Mandarin and Tamil schools to conduct lessons in these languages, were similarly unconstitutional.
In addition, they also wanted the court to declare vernacular schools to be in violation of Articles 5 (right to a dignified life), 8 (equality), 10 (freedom of speech, assembly and association), 11 (freedom of religion), and 12 (rights in respect of education) of the Constitution.
The case’s 13 defendants included political parties MCA, MIC, Gerakan, the Education Ministry, and the minister of education. — Borneo Post Online