MCA has described the move by Ikatan Guru Guru Muslim Malaysia to file a lawsuit on the existence of vernacular schools in Malaysia as yet another challenge to the nation’s Constitutional safeguards.
Its secretary-general, Datuk Chong Sin Woon, said the party – a Barisan Nasional component member – is saddened to learn of the suit filed by the Muslim group at the High Court in Kota Baru on Thursday.
The former deputy Education Minister said this is the third such lawsuit filed in the nation since Pakatan Harapan took over the nation’s administration in 2018.
“What was once an unprecedented occurrence has now become a norm for us.
“There was a time when everyone accepted the rights of the minority communities in Malaysia to teach and learn in their own vernacular language,” he said in a statement today.
Chong stressed that vernacular schools enjoy protection by the highest law of the land – Article 152 of the Federal Constitution – which, among others, states that while the Malay language should be the national language, no person shall be prohibited from using other languages for teaching or learning.
“However, with these court suits challenging the Constitutionality of vernacular schools, this suggests more proof of Malaysia’s impending slide into an age of extremism and radical rhetoric”, he said.
He added that the latest suit comes on the heels of separate lawsuits being filed last December by Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS), the Islam Education Development Council (Mapim) as well as lawyer and Putra vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam, which also questioned the constitutionality of vernacular education in Malaysia.
In the suit on Feb 20, Ikatan Guru Guru Muslim Malaysia raised a constitutional challenge to Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act.
The suit is likely to be consolidated with action filed by Khairul at the end of last year, which also claims that Sections 28 and 17 of the Education Act are invalid due to inconsistencies with Article 152 of the Federal Constitution.
MCA has become an intervener in Khairul’s lawsuit, as well as in the joint one filed by GPMS and Mapim.
Chong said MCA will not hesitate to intervene in the latest suit as well.
“MCA has always upheld and protected that continued existence of Chinese, Tamil and Malay medium national schools.
“The recent trend to get the courts to shut some of the schools down is disappointing, as it shows that we have yet to grow as a nation, despite 63 years of nation-building,” Chong said. – NST