KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Dec 2008: MCA has thrown the law books against Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir for his suggestion to close vernacular schools as a way to forge national unity.
The party’s legal bureau chairperson Datuk Leong Tang Chong in a statement said Mukhriz’s proposal had violated Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution which states that “no person should be prohibited or prevented from using (otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning, any other language”.
Clause (b) of the same article also states that “nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or of any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation”.
Leong said the idea of abolishing the vernacular school system by integrating it into the national school system amounted to sedition as defined in Section 3 of Sedition Act 1948 (revised 1969), whereby a ‘seditious tendency’ involves the questioning of any matter, right, status, provision, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative that is established or protected by the Constitution.
“MCA condemns such irresponsible statements and calls for an immediate end to such political posturing,” Leong said.
“Mukhriz should make a public apology to all Malaysians and refrain from such political rhetoric. The law is clear and no one is above the law. The supremacy of the Federal Constitution must be defended at all times and respected by all Malaysians.”
Leong also highlighted past court cases involving calls to abolish vernacular schools.
He cited the 1971 case of Melan Abdullah and Anor vs PP, in which Bahasa Malaysia daily Utusan Melayu on 6 April 1971 published an editorial titled “Hapuskan sekolah beraliran Tamil atau Cina“. The court ruled that the heading was a clear violation of Article 152.
In another case, PP vs Mark Koding in 1982, Leong noted that Koding, a member of parliament, was found guilty of making seditious remarks in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat on 11 Oct 1978, where he questioned the government’s policy on allowing vernacular schools. The MP also questioned the use of Chinese and Tamil on road signboards, and even suggested that the Constitution be amended to restrict the use of other languages.
“Now, Mukhriz has also made a suggestion to abolish Chinese and vernacular schools in the lobby of Parliament. In light of the above [legal] authorities, is his statement not seditious?” said Leong.
Leong added that Mukhriz’s reply that his statement was meant to enhance national unity was “no excuse”.
Mukhriz, the Umno Youth chief aspirant, had said in his defence that his idea was meant as a solution to bring about “real unity”.
See also: Mukhriz’s proposal is unconstitutional