Are vernacular schools constitutional? Lawyer files motion with Federal Court

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has filed a notice of motion at the Federal Court, seeking declaration whether the existence of vernacular schools is constitutionally legal or illegal.

Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz filed the notice on Wednesday (Oct 23) in his personal capacity.

"I am challenging that the existence of vernacular schools are against the Federal Constitution," he said in a statement.

Mohd Khairul filed the notice under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution in relation to Education Act 1996, seeking a Federal Court ruling on the matter.

"Through the notice, I am seeking a declaration that Parliament had no power to amend Section 17 and Section 28 of the Education Act 1996, on grounds that it contravened Article 152 (1) (a) of the Constitution," he said.

Stressing that he was not denying the rights of the minorities to teach and learn their mother tongue as enshrined in the Constitution, Azam said he was merely questioning why the national language was not used as medium of instruction in such schools that were funded by the government.

"If the court made a ruling that the vernacular schools are unconstitutional, I call for the status of such schools to be changed to Sekolah Kebangsaan, and for the Malay language to be used as the medium of instruction," he said.

If the Court made such a ruling, funds alloted for such schools under Budget 2020 should be withdrawn," he said.

"I am resorting to this action, because I believe in upholding the supremacy of the constitution.

"This issue should not be weighed on a racial scale.

"It should be deliberated entirely within the jurisprudence of the law and Constitution. It is high time the Court makes a ruling on the legality of vernacular schools," he said.

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