Friday, December 20, 2019

[536.19] JAWI SCRIPT CASE IN PENANG



Dominic Lau Hoe Chai v Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education & others [Judicial Review Application No. PA-25-53-09/2019]
[Copy and Paste]
High Court: The Jawi script is also the script of the national language which is the Malay language. There is nothing in article 12(3) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the learning of a particular language the script of which also incidentally forms the script of a holy text of a religion.
" [12] I will first consider the issue whether an arguable case is demonstrated by the perceived contravention of article 12(3) of the Federal Constitution through the implementation of Jawi writing in the Malay language subject at the said schools. The connection between Jawi writing and the Malay language is provided by article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution........and Parliament specifically enacted section 9 of the National Language Act 1963/67 providing for the script of the Malay language in the following words:
" The script of the national language shall be in the Rumi script: provided that this shall not prohibit the use of the Malay script, more commonly known as the Jawi script, of the national language."
[13] Thus, the Jawi script is also the script of the national language or bahasa kebangsaan (as stated in the Malay text of the Federal Constitution) which is the Malay language. The Federal Government has decided to implement the learning of the Jawi script of the national language by teaching Jawi writing as part of the Malay Language subject at the said schools........
[16] Having read articles 12(3) and 12(4) with care, it is very clear to me that a student in any school is protected from receiving any instruction in a religion other than his own except if allowed by his parents. However, there is nothing in article 12(3) that prohibits the learning of a particular language the script of which also incidentally forms the script of a holy text of a religion. The learning of a language is not an issue under article 12(3). It will become an issue only if in teaching the language a student is caused to receive instruction in a religion other than his own. There is not an iota of evidence apart from the applicant's supposition and opinion that the teaching of Jawi writing would amount to a student receiving instruction in a religion other than his own. The syllabus or what Jawi writing entails is yet to be announced. The teaching of Jawi writing like the teaching of the Rumi writing is the method to learn the script of the Malay language which is the national language. There is therefore no arguable case shown for further investigation at the substantive hearing of a perceived breach of article 12(3)..........
[18] The policy to implement teaching of Jawi writing in the Malay Language subject at the said schools is the exclusive right of the Federal Government which decides what kind of education policy should be implemented in the whole of Malaysia......
[20] The Federal Government through the Education Minister has explained the policy of Jawi writing in Parliament. The policy clearly concerns matters of the Malay language, national heritage and national identity which were amongst the factors taken into account by the Cabinet. These are clearly considerations of non-legal factors. In my judgement any evaluation of these factors would be an act of entering into the domain which belongs solely to the executive. Therefore any inquiry weighing the pros and cons of the policy and to test the degree of its beneficial disposition based on however sound and good reasoning advanced by the applicant should be avoided. In this regard I can do no better than quote the learned Judge in Marcel Jude Joseph & Anor v The Minister of Education & Ors [2013] 1 CLJ 1106 when faced with a similar challenge to an education policy:
" The simple implication is that unless it is specifically provided for in the Federal Constitution or any other legislation, no such restriction is placed on the government in formulating policy for the education system in the country......Hence the introduction or reversal of PPSMI (or the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in the English language) is a matter of government policy, nothing more, nothing less. Policies of the government of course cannot be questioned by the Court of Law which concerns only with interpretation of law enacted by the Parliament..."
[21] I therefore hold that the wisdom and reasons taken into account by the Cabinet in deciding to implement Jawi writing at the said schools is not amenable to judicial review."
- Justice Amarjeet Singh Serjit Singh, Judicial Commissioner of High Court of Malaya at Penang in Dominic Lau Hoe Chai v Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education & others [Judicial Review Application No. PA-25-53-09/2019] dated 28 November 2019.
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