End of vernacular schools’ challenge: Federal Court rejects two NGOs’ leave to appeal

(From left) Jiao Zong chairman Cheah Lek Aee, Dong Zong Majlis Bahasa Cina Malaysia chairman Datuk Heng Hong Chai, Dong Zong chairman Tan Tai Kim and Supramaniam Ramasamy in Putrajaya February 20, 2024. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 20 — The Federal Court today in a majority decision rejected two non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) application for leave to appeal against a previous court ruling which found vernacular schools to be constitutional, which means the existence of vernacular schools in Malaysia continues to remain legal.

Justice Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan, who chaired the Federal Court’s three-judge panel, delivered the majority decision which was agreed to by Federal Court judge Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang.

Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil dissented.

Two non-governmental organisations who had challenged the constitutionality of vernacular schools — Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim) and Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena) — had wanted to pursue their appeal.

As Mappim and Gapena failed to obtain leave for appeal, this means the Federal Court will not be hearing their appeal, and the Court of Appeal’s decision — which found vernacular schools to be constitutional — still stands.

Mappim and Gapena had previously failed at both the High Court and Court of Appeal to challenge the constitutionality and legality of vernacular schools.