MCA to defend vernacular schools in court

KUALA LUMPUR: The court’s decision to allow MCA to intervene in a constitutional challenge against the legality of vernacular schools has made it the first Chinese political party to uphold the rights of such schools in a legal process, said party secretary-general Datuk Chong Sin Woon.

MCA, represented by Chong and 13 others, have been allowed by the High Court to intervene in the lawsuit filed by politician Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz.

“MCA is the first Chinese political party to defend the rights and existence of vernacular schools via a proper legal process,” Chong said in a statement.

Chong said MCA would uphold the tenets of the Federal Constitution that enshrined the rights of the minorities in Malaysia to teach and learn in their respective mother tongue and this included the establishment and operation of vernacular schools.

“We will never waver in our commitment to safeguard the constitutional rights of all types of schools in Malaysia, and will prevent at all costs the sacrosanct Federal Constitution from being trampled upon,” he said.

Chong, who was represented by lawyer Datuk Ben Chan, filed the application to intervene in the legal suit on Jan 14.

High Court judge Justice Nordin Hassan made the decision yesterday after the applications to intervene did not receive any objection from the applicant.

Khairul Azam had originally named the Education Minister and the government as defendants.

Apart from MCA, the 13 organisations that were allowed to intervene and become defendants of the case include Khairul Azam’s own party, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra); Gerakan (represented by its president Datuk Dominic Lau); Persatuan Tamilar Thirunal Perak (represented by Babu Raj Raja Gopal); and Persatuan Gabungan Kebajikan Guru-guru Bersara Sekolah Tamil Malaysia as the third to sixth defendants.

The seventh to 11th defendants were United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong) as represented by its chairman Ong Kow Ee; United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) as represented by its chairman Tan Tai Kim; Pertubuhan Generasi Baru Melaka; MIC as represented by its public officer M. Asojan Muniyandy; and Persatuan Thamizhar Malaysia as represented by its president Jeramal @ Ganesan Muthu.

The remaining parties were the Malaysian Chinese Language Council; Persatuan Tamil Neri Malaysia; Gabungan Persatuan Bekas Pelajar Sekolah Tamil Malaysia (Pertama); and Chong Hwa Independent High School of Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier, Khairul Azam’s lawyer Datuk Shaharudin Ali told the court that his client had no objections to the applications regardless of whether they would be favouring his client or the government.

Justice Nordin said the right to intervene was based on whether those seeking to intervene have legal interest in the court matter.

The court ordered the parties to file written submissions by April 28.

The hearing is fixed for May 5.

This is Khairul Azam’s second attempt to challenge the constitutionality of vernacular schools after his first application was denied by the Federal Court in November last year on grounds of technicality.

In the suit, Khairul Azam claimed Sections 28 and 17 of the Education Act are invalid due to alleged inconsistencies with Act 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Meanwhile, MIC education bureau chairman Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the court had allowed MIC, among others, to intervene in this matter as the judge noted that the interveners had the legal right to do so.

“MIC has always safeguarded vernacular schools for the Indian community in Malaysia since its establishment in 1946,” he said.

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MCA , vernacular schools , education


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