Report: Three groups seek to be part of lawsuit challenging vernacular schools

Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Three groups have asked to be included in a lawsuit by lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, a report has said.

Lawyer T. Gunaseelan said the three groups had yesterday filed their respective applications to be interveners in the lawsuit as they are "affected parties", news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.

The three groups comprise the Chinese Language Council, the Tamil Language Association and the Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils, FMT said.

The lawsuit will come up for case management tomorrow.

The court will be hearing the application for leave to intervene on February 12, the report said.

Mohd Khairul Azam, who is also vice-president of Malay party Putra, had in November 2019 failed in his first attempt to challenge the existence of vernacular schools.

The lawsuit, which the three groups are seeking to be made parties to, was filed by Mohd Khairul Azam on December 17, 2019 as a second attempt to have constitutional schools declared unconstitutional.

In his lawsuit against the education minister and Malaysian government, Mohd Khairul Azam claimed Sections 28 and 17 of the Education Act are invalid due to alleged inconsistencies with Act 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Under the Education Act, Section 17 states that the national language shall be the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions in the National Education System, except for national-type schools created under Section 28 or others given exemption by the education minister.

Also, under Section 17, educational institutions that do not use the national language as the main medium of instruction have to teach it as a compulsory subject.

Section 28 enables the education minister to establish both national schools and national-type schools.

National-type schools are defined in the Education Act as primary schools using Chinese or Tamil as the main medium of instruction, and where the national language and English are compulsory subjects.

Article 152(1)(a) states that the national language shall be the Malay language and that no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (except for official purposes) or from teaching or learning any other language.

There is currently a separate lawsuit filed on December 16, 2019 by Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) and the Islam Education Development Council (Mappim) to challenge the constitutionality of vernacular school.

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