Selangor Journal
Picture shown for illustration purposes only. — Picture by PEXELS

Vernacular schools: Two organisations seek leave to appeal to Federal Court

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — Two organisations are seeking leave to appeal to the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of their application to declare the establishment and existence of vernacular schools and the use of Mandarin and Tamil in such schools as unconstitutional.

In a press statement, Messrs Amelda Fuad Abi and Aidil, who are representing the Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim) and Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena), said the notice of motion for leave to appeal was filed on December 19.

“Sections 96 and 97 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 provide that a leave to appeal must be obtained first.

“Therefore, Mappim and Gapena have filed a notice of motion applying for leave to appeal to the Federal Court on the issues of constitution and legality on the status of Malaysia’s Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) and (Tamil) schools based on Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution,” it said.

The law firm said the filing should be seen from the angle of constitutional and legal issues and not sensationalised as a racial issue.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing Mappim and Gapena, confirmed the matter when contacted by Bernama.

On November 23, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals brought by Mappim, Gapena, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), and Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia (I-Guru) after reaching a verdict that national-type schools or vernacular schools are not public authorities and therefore the use of Tamil or Mandarin as the mediums of instruction in these schools are not prohibited.

The Kota Bahru High Court judicial commissioner Abazafree Mohd Abbas (now High Court judge), in his May 29, 2022 ruling, concluded that the existence of vernacular schools is constitutional and dismissed the suit filed by I-Guru.

On December 29, 2021, then-High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali (now a Court of Appeal judge) dismissed the lawsuits brought by GPMS, Mappim, Gapena, and Isma. However, GPMS did not file the appeal to the Court of Appeal.

In their suit filed in December 2019, GPMS, Mappim, Gapena, and Isma named several parties, including the Malaysian government, Chinese education associations, the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) and Jiao Zong, Persatuan Thamizhar Malaysia, and Persatuan Tamilar Thurunal (Perak).

I-Guru, which named the Education Minister and the Government of Malaysia, sought a declaration that Sections 28 and 17 of the Education Act 1996 are inconsistent with Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and, therefore, void and of no legal effect.

The Chinese Language Council, the Tamil Neri Association, the Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils, MCA, and Dong Zong were allowed to be interveners in the suit filed by I-Guru.

— Bernama

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