Crime & Courts

Vernacular Schools Case: Apex Court fixed February 20 to hear bid for leave to appeal by two NGOs

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has fixed February 20 to hear the applications by two Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to seek leave to appeal against a decision by the Court of Appeal in declaring the use of Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction in vernacular schools as constitutional.

The hearing date was fixed during the case management conducted yesterday (January 22) before Federal Court deputy registrar Faezahnoor Hassan.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing the Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim) and Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena), confirmed the date when contacted by Bernama.

On November 23 last year, 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.

However, it is learned that Isma and I-Guru have opted to drop out.

On December 29, 2021, High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali (now 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.

He ruled that the existence and establishment of vernacular schools and the use of Mandarin and Tamil languages in those schools are constitutional.

On May 29 the following year, Kota Bahru High Court judicial commissioner Datuk Mohamad Abazafree Mohd Abbas (now High Court judge) also ruled that the existence of vernacular schools is constitutional and dismissed the suit filed by I-Guru.

In the suit filed on December 2019, GPMS, Mappim, Gapena, and Isma named several parties including the Government of Malaysia, Chinese education associations Dong Zong and Jiao Zong, Persatuan Thamizhar Malaysia, and Persatuan Tamilar Thurunal (Perak) as defendants.

I-Guru, in suing the Education Minister and the Malaysian Government, 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 the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) were allowed to be interveners in the suit filed by I-Guru. --BERNAMA

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