Federal Court throws out suit questioning constitutionality of vernacular schools

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PUTRAJAYA NOV 11-
The Federal Court has thrown out the case of a lawyer who sought to question if the existence of vernacular schools was unconstitutional.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed (pic) dismissed Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz’s leave application, on grounds that it was within the Parliament’s power to form such schools.

Mohd Khairul’s challenge was on whether Parliament had the authority to pass an amendment to Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act 1996, which was on matters of language.

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He argued that since Chinese and Tamil national-type schools used their own language as the medium of instruction, it went against Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution, which states that the national language shall be the Malay language.

As Mohd Khairul had sought to challenge the Parliament’s power to pass laws, he needed to obtain leave from a single Federal Court judge under Article 4 (4) of the Constitution.

However, the Chief Judge ruled that Parliament has clear power under the terms of education and matters auxiliary to it, such as the language used as the medium of instruction.

He added that declaration sought on whether Sections 17 and 28 were unconstitutional should commence from the High Court.

With this case starting in Federal Court, his failure to obtain leave meant there was no further avenue for the case to proceed.

However, the ruling suggests that the issue of contention against vernacular schools could be started anew before a High Court.

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