The High Court in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, has ruled that the existence of vernacular schools is constitutional.

In making the ruling yesterday, judge Roslan Abu Bakar reportedly held that the existence of such schools must be read in the historical context.

"The intention of the framers of the Federal Constitution was to preserve that as part of the education system. The wishes of our forefathers were that we live in harmony," news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) quoted him saying, in dismissing a suit brought by the Muslim teachers group Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia.

According to the report, the association's president Azizee Hassan had filed the suit last year, naming the education minister and the government as defendants, and challenging the constitutionality of Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan, who represented the the Chinese Language Council, the Tamil Language Association and the Confederation of Former Tamil School Pupils as interveners, said the judge did not order costs as it was a public interest issue.

It is worth noting that the Kuala Lumpur High Court had on Dec 30 last year dismissed a similar suit brought by the Federation of Peninsular Malay Students (GPMS), the Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim) and the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena).

The group had sought a declaration that Sections 2, 17 and 28 of the Education Act to set up vernacular schools using Mandarin and Tamil as the main languages were inconsistent with Article 152 of the constitution, which states that Bahasa Melayu is the national language of Malaysia.

The three groups have since filed an appeal against the ruling, at the Court of Appeal.

Source: FMT
Photo source: Malaysiakini