Muslim teachers oppose other groups in suit over vernacular schools

Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia is suing over the existence of vernacular schools in Malaysia. (File pic)

KOTA BARU: A Muslim teachers group, Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia, has opposed an application by three language-based interest groups to intervene in a suit over the existence of vernacular schools in Malaysia.

The group also objects to an application by the Chinese Language Council, Tamil Language Association and Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils and the government to have the action filed in the High Court here to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan, who is appearing for three interest groups, said judge Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh had now ordered parties to file affidavits and counter-affidavits on both matters.

“The plaintiff is objecting to my clients’ attempt to be made parties on grounds there were already two others who have intervened,” he told FMT after attending a case management before Wan Ahmad today.

The parties that have intervened are MCA and the United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong).

Gunaseelan said the plaintiff also refused to agree for the suit to be heard in Kuala Lumpur.

“My clients and the government have taken the position that it will be convenient to have the case heard with other similar actions filed in Kuala Lumpur should the intervener application by my clients succeed,” he said.

Wan Ahmad has fixed another case management on Oct 25 to give further direction to the parties.

Last month, the three interest groups filed the intervener application on grounds they had a direct interest in the case and would be aggrieved parties should the plaintiff succeed in their action.

Chinese Language Council chairman Heng Hong Chai, Tamil Language Association chairman R Permalu and Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils chairman M Kumaran have also affirmed the affidavit in support of their application.

The plaintiff, Mohd Azizee Hasan, who is Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia president, filed the suit on behalf of his organisation in February. He is challenging the constitutionality of Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act.

The education minister and the government have been named as defendants.

Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung and Majlis Pembangunan Pendidikan Islam Malaysia filed similar suits in Kuala Lumpur in February.

Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) filed a similar cause of action also in Kuala Lumpur in March.

Isma president Aminuddin Yahaya is seeking an order that the two provisions in the Education Act, which allow the use of Chinese and Tamil languages as the medium of instruction in vernacular schools, are against Article 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 152 states that Bahasa Melayu is the national language of Malaysia.