PUTRAJAYA, Sept 6 — Three individuals lost their appeal to get leave to commence judicial review in their bid to challenge the decision of the previous government to introduce khat calligraphy in the Bahasa Melayu subject for pupils in national-type Chinese and Tamil schools.

The Court of Appeal’s three-man panel comprising Justice Datuk P. Ravinthran, Justice Datuk S. Nantha Balan and Datuk Nordin Hassan, in a unanimous decision, dismissed their appeals.

The three are former Chinese School Students Association president Tan Kim Sen @ Tan Boon Tak, Persatuan Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia chairman D. Ravi and R. Visa Letchumy.

Justice Nordin, who delivered the decision in online proceedings, said the High Court was correct in dismissing the trio’s leave application for judicial review as it was filed out of time, in addition to them not showing good reason to extend the time period to file their application. 

He said the High Court’s decision was justified and that it was unnecessary for the appellate court to interfere with the judge’s discretion.

Justice Nordin said the law provided that an application for leave to commence judicial review should be filed within 30 days when the decision which an applicant sought to challenge was first communicated to him or her, adding that the court may extend the period for filing the leave application if there was a good reason given by the applicant.

He said the decision to implement the teaching of khat in schools was on Aug 14, 2019 and the appellants filed their leave for judicial review on May 20, 2020, which was a delay of nine months.

Justice Nordin said the High Court had found that the contention by the appellants that the Movement Control Order and Conditional Movement Order were enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 18, 2020 and May 4, 2020 respectively, could not be considered reasons to delay filing the leave application.

He said the appeals brought by Tan, Ravi and Visa were without merit and the court affirmed the April 20 2020 High Court’s decision in dismissing their application for leave to commence judicial review. 

No order, however, was given on costs as he said the case was of public interest.

In the court’s decision, Justice Nordin also said when the appellants filed their application for leave, there was no decision to implement the teaching of khat as evidence showed that based on a Cabinet decision, the implementation of khat calligraphy was replaced with Jawi writing based.

The trio filed the application in May 2020 against the Education Minister and the Government of Malaysia, claiming that the previous government’s decision to introduce khat calligraphy to Year Four pupils of national-type Chinese and Tamil schools was against the Federal Constitution.

Lawyers T. Gunaseelan and Keshvinjeet Singh represented the trio while senior federal counsel Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Wan Ab Rahman and Federal Counsel Ng Wee Li appeared for the Education Minister and the government.


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