Thursday, 16 May 2013

Was Mark Koding found guilty of sedition for advocating closure of Tamil and Chinese Schools? Not!

Now this is disturbing talk coming from a so called promoter of press freedom:

“Abdul Rahman’s call for the abolition of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools in favour of a single stream school is seditious and a BN MP, Mark Koding, was even convicted of sedition in 1982 for making the very same suggestion in Parliament in 1978,” 
Lim Guan Eng DAP Sec. Gen said in a statement. Source here.

OK, Now lets look at the Public Prosecutor vs Mark Koding Federal Court Judgement, the case that Guan Eng  referred to above can be read here. And this is what the actual judgement said on Mark Koding advocating the closure of Tamil or Chinese School:

In the event, it is my finding that the Accused is not guilty of sedition when he advocates for the closure of Tamil or Chinese schools.
Mohamed Azmi J

Some excerpts of the Judgement:

The Accused, a Member of Parliament, is charged for uttering seditious words, an offence punishable under s 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 (Revised 1969). He is alleged to have uttered the seditious words in the course of his speech in Malay in Dewan Rakyat on 11 October 1978. The impugned words as contained in App “A” of the charge are as follows:

Keadaan eksklusif dalam negara kita di masa ini adalah hasil daripada baik hati kaum bumiputra membiarkan sekolah-sekolah China dan India menggunakan bahasa mereka selepas Merdeka. Sekiranya tokoh-tokoh kita yang awal dapat meramalkan keadaan yang berlaku pada masa ini dan tidak bertolak ansur untuk menghapuskan pelajaran China dan Tamil sudah tentu kita tidak akan menghadapi masalah yang kita hadapi sekarang ini. Bagaimanapun, masih ada lagi masa untuk kita membaiki keadaan ini. Tindakan kita bukanlah mencerminkan tujuan dan kepercayaan tokoh-tokoh kita yang lalu oleh sebab mereka telah bertindak berdasarkan kepada keadaan yang wujud pada masa itu dan mereka dengan ikhlas mempercayai bahawa mereka telah dapat menyelesaikan issu tersebut. Mereka tidak dapat disalahkan dengan apa yang terjadi pada hari ini oleh sebab cabaran-cabaran yang kita terima hari ini bukanlah datang dari zaman mereka. Cabaran yang kita hadapi sekarang adalah tanggungjawab kita untuk mengatasinya.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, masanya sudah tiba bagi Dewan yang mulia ini untuk memutuskan samada kita akan terus membenarkan sekolah-sekolah China dan Tamil dan bahasabahasa tersebut di papan-papan tanda di jalan-jalan raya di negeri itu. Saya, seratus peratus berpendapat bahawa kita harus menutup sekolah-sekolah jenis tersebut dan menyekat sama sekali penulisan papan-papan tanda dalam bahasabahasa itu. Sekiranya tindakan-tindakan ini kelak bertentangan dengan Artikal 152 Perlembagaan maka kita harus merombak Perlembagaan tersebut demi kepentingan rakyat dan negara. Kalau kita gagal melakukan hakikat ini bermakna kita menghampakan amanah yang diamanatkan oleh rakyat dan juga melenyapkan harapan dan aspirasi generasi baru kita yang tidak mahu melihat negara mereka dicap oleh identiti orang asing. Adakah kita mahu mengwujudkan identiti kita atas asas kemelayuan, kechinaan atau keindiaan. Saya rasa sudah pasti kemelayuan atau kebumiputeraan kerana tidak ada alternatif yang lain demi survival negara kita.

..........The question therefore arises as to the true interpretation of proviso (a) to Article 152(1). Having regard to the words used in the proviso, viz. “teaching or learning any other language” as opposed to “teaching or learning in any other language”, I tend to agree with the restricted meaning enunciated by Abdoolcader J when dealing with schools or other educational institutions. In my view, under proviso (a), although the National Language shall be the Malay language, the usage of any other language other than for official purposes, is guaranteed; so is the teaching or learning of any other language in schools, be it Chinese, Tamil, Arabic or English. But there is nothing in proviso (a) to justify the extension of the protection to the operation of schools where the medium of instruction is Chinese, Tamil, Arabic or English. This strict interpretation is consistent with proviso (b) which guarantees the right of the Federal Government or any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation. Thus, the preservation and sustenance of usage of language of any other community is guaranteed. So is the preservation and sustenance of study of any other community’s language, but again there is no justification in extending the guarantee to the preservation and sustenance of study in the language of any other community in the absence of specific words to that effect. Any other interpretation of proviso (a) would result in abusing the words used in the proviso. It is absurd for instance to think that the proviso gives constitutional protection to teaching or learning in school where the medium of instruction is Russian or Japanese. To my mind, the protection only extends to language but not to medium of instruction in schools. In other words, no person shall be prohibited or prevented from teaching or learning Chinese or Tamil or, for that matter, any language which is not the national language in any school as a language subject, but such protection does not extend to the teaching or learning in a school where the teaching or learning is in any other language. As correctly stated by Abdoolcader J the omission of the preposition “in” after the words “teaching or learning” in proviso (a) makes the distinction necessary. In the event, it is my finding that the Accused is not guilty of sedition when he advocates for the closure of Tamil or Chinese schools. Whether or not such closure is advisable or feasible is, of course, another matter to be decided elsewhere and not in this court. There is nothing unlawful in allowing Chinese or Tamil schools to continue.

The nitty gritty legal stuff can be read further here.

In view of the increasingly critical  polarisation of races in Malaysia, I view the Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua/One School For All initiative as a very logical steps towards unity. Yes time to finally join Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Filipina, Australia...heck the rest of the world.


Anonymous said...

As long as the government cannot deliver quality education, why should anyone be forced to join the government's schools?

Such schools will not stop any race being left behind. Progressive students will still find a way to advance, studying after school if need be. Compulsory universal schools will only hinder their progress and retard the country's growth as a whole. said...

Thailand and Philippine are running single language education system. They are more divided than Bolehland with civil war and political riots and killings.

The root cause of race polarization is NEP with distorted and bias implementation which only favored bumis.

One of the NEP main objectives is to eradicate poverty regardless your race and religion is totally sidelined by BN government.