GPMS, MAPPIM suit could jeopardise Sarawak’s mission and religious schools

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, Dec 27: The actions taken by the Association of Peninsular Malaysia Students (GPMS) and the Islamic Education Development Council (MAPPIM) may put the existence of mission and religious schools in Sarawak in jeopardy.

This is the view of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) following GPMS’ and MAPPIM’s action of filing a suit on Dec 16 against the education ministry and the government over the existence of Chinese and Tamil national schools, claiming that they may be in conflict with the national language Clause 152(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“They are against the use of vernacular languages as main medium of instructions in schools that receive public funds because according to them this would be in conflict with the position of the Malay language as the national language, which must be used for all official purposes.

“If other languages could not become the main medium of instructions, society will in future, find few able to speak and read other languages including their mother tongue, except, the Malay language only.

“The move by both organisations, if they succeed, can also put the existence of mission and religious schools in the country, especially, in Sarawak in jeopardy.

“The move can also restrict or make it difficult for religious practices of many religions as holy books of other religions are not in the Malay language and even if they could be translated in the Malay language certain words could not be used in the translation,” said PBK president Voon Lee Shan in a statement.

Voon said although it was clear that while Malay was the national language, there is no prohibition under the federal constitution to use community or vernacular languages, including those used by Chinese and natives of Sarawak.

On another related issue, Voon said the party had written to invite Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching to come to Sarawak to identify the stand of Sarawakians concerning the introduction of Jawi in schools.

The letter dated Sept 24, 2019 had yet to receive any reply from Teo, claimed Voon in a statement.

“The Deputy Education Minister is expected to meet the people of Sarawak in a public hall concerning this issue but she is yet to appear.

“PBK is monitoring these issues closely with Gabungan Sekat National and with civil rights lawyers in the country. We view that no education could be forced against a person’s will and citizens also have a right of education to their own mother tongue without any hindrances.

Voon stressed that education was a human right and no government was allowed to discriminate or impose any restriction on learning and education including that of the mother tongue.

The United Nations in the Convention against Discrimination in Education passed on 14 December 1960 as Article 5(c) prohibits discrimination from learning one’s culture and language. He said that Malaysia, being a member of the United Nations should respect this condition or rule as passed by the United Nations.

Concerning religious practices, Voon said no one was allowed to force the practice of their faith on others such as requiring persons of other faiths to stand up during doa or listen to their prayers at public functions.

He said this was clearly mentioned in Article 12(3) of the Federal Constitution which states, “No person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own.” —DayakDaily