COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY,
DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
December 29, 2021, can be considered as a historic day for the existence and continuation of vernacular schools that use Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction.
The High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the suit by three Malay organisations that challenged the constitutionality of the existence of the vernacular schools in the country.
The plaintiffs argued that the existence of the vernacular schools were not only unconstitutional but infringed the individual rights of persons.
The defendants in the suit was the government and 13 other non-Malay organisations.
The court held that the existence of vernacular schools was not an infringement on Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution.
The vernacular school are not a public authority as such they are permitted to use non-Malay languages as they are not for official purpose.
In regard to the argument by the plaintiffs that the existence of vernacular schools infringed on individual rights, the court felt that was not so. The court found that vernacular schools did not violate Articles 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution.
In dismissing the suit of the plaintiffs, the court made an important point of judicial deference to the government in power.
The court took cognisance of the fact of separation of powers to say that it respected the decision of an elected government to establish schools vernacular or not in furtherance of the interests of the people.