Three groups apply to intervene in suit to declare vernacular schools illegal

Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz (left) and his counsel Shaharudin Ali with members of his legal team.

KUALA LUMPUR: Three language-based groups have filed applications to be made parties in a suit brought by a lawyer to declare the existence of vernacular schools unconstitutional.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan said the Chinese Language Council, the Tamil Language Association and the Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils filed the intervener applications at the High Court here yesterday.

The proposed interveners will first have to obtain leave of the court.

“The three want to be made parties to the action as they are affected parties,” Gunaseelan told FMT.

A case management will be held before the court deputy registrar tomorrow while the leave (to intervene) application has been fixed for Feb 12.

Lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, who re-filed his application, is seeking a declaration that Sections 28 and 17 of the Education Act 1996 which allow the use of Chinese and Tamil languages as the main medium in vernacular schools, are against Article 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Khairul has named the education minister and the Malaysian government as defendants.

On Nov 11, the Federal Court dismissed Khairul’s leave application to have his case heard by the apex court.

Judge Azahar Mohamed said the action should be filed and heard by a High Court.

Another group, the Association of Peninsular Malaysia Students (GPMS) and the Islamic Educational Development Council (Mappim), have also filed a similar application to nullify Sections 2, 17 and 28 of the Education Act.

GPMS and Mappim said they had no problems supporting third languages such as Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic and Kadazan, and others including Japanese and Korean, to be taught as language subjects, but were against the use of these languages as the main medium of instruction in schools that receive public funds.