The High Court has ruled that vernacular schools in the country are not against the Federal Constitution and has thrown out an application challenging their legality over the use of non-national mediums of instruction.
According to Malay Mail, Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the Federal Constitution, in fact, expressly protected teaching in mother tongues other than Bahasa Malaysia.
He added that the plaintiffs 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.”
“In any event, it has not been shown in what manner the establishment and existence of the vernacular schools have violated the fundamental liberties of any person guaranteed in the said Articles.
“Enrolment in a vernacular school is after all a matter of choice. It is difficult to see in what fashion the establishment and existence of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools would infringe the fundamental liberties or rights of any person under the constitution,” Judge Nazlan said.
The suit was initiated by the Federation of Peninsular Malay Students and also the Islamic Education Development Council in December 2019, where they are seeking a court declaration that the existence of vernacular schools violates the provisions in the federal constitution, as Article 152(1) defines Malay as the national language.
The group 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 courts 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 in religion), and 12 (Rights in respect of education) of the constitution.