Former deputy education ministers welcome decision

PUTRAJAYA: MCA secretary-general Datuk Chong Sin Woon and MIC’s Datuk P. Kamalanathan (pic), who were both formerly deputy education ministers, welcomed the decision by the Federal Court.

“This is not an issue about race or challenging our national language. These vernacular schools have always been a part of our country’s education system even before our independence, ” Chong told a press conference after the proceedings.

He added that the court’s decision was the “best decision” as it confirmed that the existence of vernacular schools in this country had a strong legal base.

Kamalanathan said MIC and MCA would continue to follow this case if it was brought to the High Court.

Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who attended the case, supported the decision but added “there will be a time that the issue needs to be decided upon, whether vernacular schools have a right to exist”.

“I believe that vernacular schools do not threaten our national unity, but instead (help) defend our national unity and success, ” he added.

United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) chairman Tan Tai Kim hoped naysayers would recognise and respect the status quo with regards to vernacular schools and the spirit of the Federal Constitution.

With the Federal Court having dismissed the leave application, Tan said he hoped Putra vice-president and lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz would stop challenging the existence of vernacular schools.

They should instead concentrate on constructive actions in developing the quality of national education, said Tan.

“Nevertheless, we will still be prepared for the challenges ahead to uphold mother tongue education, as it is a basic human right regardless of race and religion, ” he said.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that it was no surprise to it that the case was dismissed.

“The Education Act 1996 is flexible and supports the national education philosophy that students are to be globally driven.

“It is quite clear in the Act that a minister may choose to produce an exemption order allowing vernacular schools to exist alongside national schools, ” she said.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said that the issue should not have been challenged in the first place.

Diversity is an asset and strength of the country and thus Malaysians should find ways to strengthen this further and not destroy it, he added.

“Otherwise, imagine the chaos that would have erupted, ” he said.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said “there was nothing unconstitutional about vernacular schools”.

“In the past, the founders of these vernacular schools came from India and China, and the existence of these schools served the purpose of the communities, ” he said, adding that these schools were around even before Malaysia gained Independence in 1957.

He stressed that Malaysia’s strength came from its multiracial population.

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