Plaintiffs' Press Statements

From Siti Nafirah binti Siman (2018 Plaintiff) and Rusiah binti Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya binti Hamali, and Calvina binti Angayung (2020 Plaintiffs), authorized by Messrs Roxana & Co for High Court Cases No. BKI-2NCvC-101/10-2018 and BKI-22NCvC-88/11-2020 

May 2021 — High Court Update

The Federal Government of Malaysia Has Not Filed Its Defence Over 130 Days After High Court Summons were Filed by Three Young Sabahan Women against a Claimed Months-Absent Teacher, Principal, & Ministry of Education

5 May 2021

On 22 December 2020, High Court Plaintiffs Rusiah binti Sabdarin (19 years old), Nur Natasha Allisya binti Hamali (19 years old), and Calvina binti Angayung (19 years old) filed High Court Summons against these Five Defendants:

  1. Mohd Jainal bin Jamran (their former Form 4 English teacher; transferred in early 2020)
  2. Hj. Suid bin Hj. Hanapi (their former SMK Taun Gusi school principal; retired in early 2020)
  3. Director-General of Education Malaysia
  4. Minister of Education
  5. The Federal Government of Malaysia


Today, over 130 days later, the Defendants still have no Defence filed at the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak in the proceedings of BKI-22NCvC-88/11-2020 ⤤. The Defendants are represented by the Attorney General Chambers.

After a Writ of Summons has been issued against Defendants and Defendants have entered their appearance, Defendants have 14 days to file their Defence under O. 18 r. 2 (Rules of Court 2012). The High Court of Sabah & Sarawak portal previously reported as its last case update,

FINAL e-Review for the Defendants to file Defence is fixed on 4.6.2021.

— High Court of Sabah & Sarawak Ruling on 20 April July 2021

High Court Plaintiffs Rusiah, Natasha, and Calvina of Kota Belud, Sabah, are supremely confident to proceed to a full public High Court trial against these Defendants by exercising their guaranteed rights under the Federal Constitution. Their litigation is the second such summons against these same Defendants (c.f. BKI-22NCvC-101/10-2018 ⤤ via then-18-year-old Siti Nafirah binti Siman also of Kota Belud, Sabah).

Further Court updates will be provided as needed.

BKI-22NCvC-88/11-2020 Dates


As reported ⤤ by the Official Portal of the High Court in Sabah & Sarawak.

  1. 22 December 2020 — High Court Summons Filed (0 days)
  2. 4 January 2021 — High Court Mention (+14 days cumulative)
  3. 8 February 2021 — High Court Mention (+49 days)
  4. 11 March 2021 — High Court Mention (+80 days)
  5. 20 April 2021 — High Court Mention (+120 days)
  6. 5 May 2021 — Today (+135 days)

December 2020 — High Court Filing

Three new Sabahan women file another High Court summons against claimed months-long absent English teacher, principal, and Education Ministry

Some of the world's youngest plaintiffs are taking on Malaysia's Ministry of Education in High Court—again. In Kota Belud, more than 1 in 3 live in absolute poverty with the 7th highest inequality rate in the nation. High Court told English teacher at SMK Taun Gusi refused to teach his assigned class for months in 2017.

22 December 2020

The Two High Court Litigation Cases: The 2018 High Court litigation filed by one Plaintiff is the “2018 litigation” (events occurred in 2015; litigation in 2018). Today’s High Court litigation filed by three Plaintiffs is the “2020 litigation” (events occurred in 2017; litigation in 2020). These are two independent legal proceedings with separate school years, separate classes, separate judges, separate evidence, and separate trials.

2018 High Court Litigation Update: Today’s High Court public interest litigation was again filed by Messrs Roxana & Co., a Kota Kinabalu, Sabah law firm. The firm previously has successfully navigated the 2018 Plaintiff, Siti Nafirah binti Siman, and her 2018 summons to an upcoming High Court trial, emerging victorious over the Federal Government multiple times including Discovery and dismissing a Striking Out Application. The 2015 High Court trial was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government lockdowns: expect a new High Court trial date soon.

  • The 2020 Plaintiffs: The three 2020 Plaintiffs are all former and/or current SMK Taun Gusi students; all three women are now 19 years old, classmates of the Form 4 Sports Science class in 2017, and residents of Kota Belud. All three came from Form 4 Sports Science class at the same school with the same principal assigned the same English teacher, relative to the 2018 litigation.
  • The 2020 High Court Case: The 2020 Plaintiffs state they stand in solidarity with the 2018 litigation. Their goal is identical: rid the nation of the culture of fear and silence.“ We were not the first, but we are determined to be the last. This High Court litigation is for all students: no other child should have their right to a quality education stolen....end corruption—end abuse—end negligence in education.”
  • SMK Taun Gusi is in Kota Belud, Sabah, a coastal district; school less than 5km from ocean and less than 90 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, state’s largest city and state capital
  • High Court remedies focused on declarations and aim to bring an end to these practices &the culture of fear and silence in schools for the next generation of Malaysian students

KOTA BELUD, Malaysia — Three new Sabahan ex-students have filed a public interest litigation case against five Defendants at the High Court of Kota Kinabalu. Together, they tell the High Court that the 1st Defendant refused to enter their English class for months in2017, with zero attendance after July 2017. Their claims continue that while the Plaintiffs repeatedly notified the 1st Defendant, he refused to enter. Further, the three women claim the2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Defendants failed to take any steps to rectify their teacher’s months long absences, thus are also in breach of their statutory duties declared in Malaysia’s most critical laws: the Federal Constitution, the Education Act, and the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations of 1993.

The Defendants

  1. Mohd Jainal bin Jamran (their former Form 4 English teacher; transferred in early 2020)
  2. Hj. Suid bin Hj. Hanapi (their former SMK Taun Gusi school principal; retired in early 2020)
  3. Director-General of Education Malaysia
  4. Minister of Education
  5. The Federal Government of Malaysia


The 1st and 2nd Defendants are named and thus must continue to defend themselves even after transfers, retirement, and/or dismissals by their superior Defendants.

The three Plaintiffs were 16-year-old girls at the time of the claimed events in 2017. Their district, Kota Belud, Sabah, is one of the poorest in Malaysia: more than 1 in 3 live in absolute poverty while the district records 7th highest inequality rate in the nation. This litigation comes from Malaysia’s villages and families; it comes from Sabah’s daughters and Sabah’s hopes; it comes our brothers and sisters.

The First Plaintiff is Rusiah binti Sabdarin. Rusiah was born in Kota Belud, Sabah, in 2001 and lives in Kampung Taun Gusi II at Batu Empat. She is the youngest of five siblings. When she was three, her parents separated. As a single parent, Rusiah’s father has raised his five children through his occupation as a chicken trader; he prays one day Rusiah will have a proper education and can change the family’s standard of living one day. Rusiah studied at SMK Taun Gusi from Form 1 to Form 5; she was 16 years old during the claimed 2017misconduct by the Defendants. Rusiah was the Form 4 Sports Science Class Monitor.

The Second Plaintiff is Nur Natasha Allisya binti Hamali. Natasha was born in Ampuan Rahimah, Selangor in 2001; her family moved to Kota Belud, Sabah, when Natasha was nine years old. Natasha has two elder brothers and one younger sister. Of a simple background and poor family, Natasha’s parents sacrificed decades of their lives, including years of school and transportation fees, so their children could have a better chance than they did. Natasha’s father is a temporary imam at a local surau, while her mother is a homemaker. Natasha studied at SMK Taun Gusi from Form 1 to Form 5; she was 16 years old during the claimed 2017 misconduct by the Defendants. Natasha was an SMK Taun Gusi Prefect.

The Third Plaintiff is Calvina binti Angayung. Born in Kampung Nibang, Pitas in 2001, Calvina moved to Kampung Rampayan Laut, Kota Belud, when she was 6 years old. Calvina’s mother is a homemaker and her father is a fisherman. Together, they struggled to survive and raise their children: “Kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang.” Calvina studied at SK Nanamun from Standard 1 to Standard 6. Then, Calvina studied at SMK Taun Gusi from Form1 to Form 5; she was 16 years old during the claimed 2017 misconduct by the Defendants. Calvina was SMK Taun Gusi’s Head Prefect.

These students’ families, like so many others, spent generations waiting for the chance of a better chance, waiting at the door of hope. Education is the only way out of the poverty cycle for thousands of Malaysia’s families: they keep knocking and they keep waiting. Today, this public interest litigation sets the new standard for the new normal: integrity and the safeguarding of the right to a quality education are the only path forward. Anything less is an abdication of duty by the very public servants who benefited from the right to a quality education. “If the deaf are to hear, the sound must be very loud.”

Alongside the 2018 litigation, this 2020 litigation will be fiercely protected, humbly stated, and passionately fought for our future generations and yours. The four Plaintiffs, all young women from Kota Belud, Sabah, are writing the next chapter. The culture of fear and silence will end.

December 2020— The Plaintiffs' Speeches

KOTA BELUD, Malaysia | 22 December 2020

  • Approximate video transcript
Introduction
775 days ago, something revolutionary began in Malaysia in one of the unlikeliest places: Kampung Taun Gusi in Kota Belud, Sabah. An 18-year-old girl, Siti Nafirah binti Siman—born and raised in Kota Belud, filed a Court summons. Not any summons, but a High Court summons against her Form 4 English teacher because she claimed he refused to enter her class for seven months in 2015.

An 18-year-old girl from Kota Belud. She didn’t stop there: she said, “I’m doing this for all students.” She said, “I raise my voice for the generation that has been silenced—teachers lose nothing if they don’t teach; students lose everything if they don’t learn.”

And she didn’t just sue the teacher; she knew the law and she kept fighting for declarations: these are Court precedents that other students can use in future cases. She knew responsibility went up the chain: she sued the school principal, who she claimed threatened her entire class and then instructed the teacher to fabricate his attendance record. She sued the Kota Belud District Education Department, the Sabah State Education Department, the Ministry of Education, and the Federal Government—to the Prime Minister.

In Kota Belud and in many districts in Sabah and Malaysia, many will tell you, “Be reasonable. You can’t get justice! You’re too poor and they are too powerful. Just accept the blame, even if it isn’t your fault; we cannot talk about corruption, as we need to follow powerful people—that’s what ‘orang susah’ must do.” Corrupt people will yell their fears the loudest—they want to make sure the lights don’t turn on.

Siti Nafirah already beat the Defendants three times in High Court: a Kota Belud girl is defeating the Federal Government in High Court.

In reality, we are only as sick as our secrets: Siti Nafirah was the spark. Her High Court trial is coming soon after the CMCO is lifted.

How do I know so much about Siti Nafirah? Because that same English teacher was also assigned to me, two years after her.

Nur Natasha Allisya binti Hamali
The culture of absent teachers is deeply embarrassing to our nation’s education system. It has stolen the rights of my education and all students who have suffered, particularly in Kota Belud, Sabah. This culture continues headstrong, with little consequences from the nation’s principals and the Ministry of Education. While this problem is incredibly common to hear in any kampung, what’s remarkable is that the existing, clear-cut, easy-to-follow disciplinary procedures are not used to discipline absent teachers.

At my school, monitoring is incredibly lacking, especially for the presence of teachers actually inside classrooms. It’s clear that when teachers refuse to teach, a school’s culture quickly degrades: more students fight, more students break the rules, and more students themselves begin to leave classes and even school. How do I know this? I was a school prefect and these consequences of absent teachers are abundantly clear.

While in Form 4 in 2017, our English teacher was not present for a significant amount of time. This teacher came to school, but repeatedly gave various excuses to avoid teaching our class. No teacher soon leads to no students. Over time, I began to feel less and less interested & focused in learning—as there was no teaching. As the exam came close, I began to feel depressed because I knew I could not do well without the curriculum—we so desperately needed a teacher then. As a result, nearly everyone in the class—including myself—failed the Form 4 English exam.

During the periods of teacher absenteeism, our friends in “superior” classes continued to focus on their education because they were “targeted” to excel. Parents & guardians are quite concerned, but this problem remains persistent because little to no action is taken by the disciplinary authorities, that is the principal and school administrators.

Should such public servants, teachers and MOE officers, be given another chance after years of hurting students? Too much time has been wasted by a teacher who remorselessly refuses to teach for months, each year. I wonder what was the fate of the students before us? Because after what happened to Siti Nafirah, it continued to happen to us even two years later.

Why would a principal protect a teacher who refused to teach? Why don’t principals think about their students who are losing their only chance at an education through this emotional trauma of teachers refusing to teach and then causing students to fail exams?

We know we—like you—deserved a quality education. The same goes for prior generations and future generations. We want those who have had their right to a quality education disabused and twisted to realize and continue to rise above our nightmares.

Even today, I still hold onto the words of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham, “Are we listening? As adults, are we humble enough? Are we smart enough to realize that in the face of every single child, we can see the future of the world? Children never stop learning. Neither should we. Children never stop asking questions and demanding more. Neither should we.”


Calvina binti Angayung

Assalamualaikum and peace be upon you, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give this speech. My name is Calvina binti Angayung: I am 19 years old and I am from Kota Belud.

I have no intention of becoming a warrior; I did not build the pillars of war. For me, it is enough to become someone who seeks the substance of justice in this struggle.

What my class experienced is gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking for both of my parents: their sacrifices of energy, money, and time were wasted by the teachers who left us for months without a teacher in the classroom. Our school expenses, our nightly labours to learn were not given their due fruits because this teacher shirked his responsibilities.

We are Siti Nafirah’s generation: it is one and the same generation and one and the same problem. I believe this problem plagues nearly all of Sabah’s schools, but the victims do not have the courage to fight the terrorizing tactics that will be used against them. It could range from shame to threats by the teacher.

Thus, this struggle must persist. This struggle must rise to the High Court. It has not crossed our minds even once to resign and give up on this struggle. The time that has passed has not passed in vain.

What further amplifies my courage is our solidarity: we support this mission together, we do not forget Siti Nafirah’s struggles in this work: our hope is that her struggle, and now our struggle, will open Malaysia’s eyes to the problem of extreme teacher absenteeism.

When my class had no teacher, the Form 4 exam results were distressful and heartbreaking as we had never learned the Form 4 English curriculum. I hope teachers like that are taught a lesson, so our generation is no longer associated with this problem.

I hope responsible teachers do not join them. If we had been given an opportunity to be in their places, we would immediately and forcefully halt these people from preventing Malaysia’s children from receiving an education.

Rusiah binti Sabdarin
Cases of absent teachers have been recurring for decades, but it has never been raised as a critical, urgent issue in our communities. I myself have experienced this event. It’s not only in Sabah, but throughout Malaysia.

At my school, when I was in Form 4 in 2017, our English teacher did not enter the classroom and he did so without an excuse. In the beginning of the year, he entered, but as the year went on, he refused to enter completely for months. He willfully denied us our right to an education. The burden of investigating absent teachers often falls on students—a tactic destined to fail. We reported this teacher to the principal, but he was more protective of the absent teacher than of students wanting to learn and use their right to a quality education. Do other school principals work like that? Is that the official policy of the Ministry of Education?

A stunning amount of our nation’s time has been wasted because of absent teachers. This particular teacher was hurtful and unfair, forcing students to cobble lessons on our own. We often waited in the classroom—watching the doorway, to see if he may come: he rarely ever did.

We hope that for other students who are experiencing similar cases: stand up. Dare yourself to fight for our educational rights. Do not let their terrorizing tactics overwhelm you. Together, we will uphold education for future generations. If not now, when else will progress forward?

Conclusion
We were not the first, but we are determined to be the last. This High Court litigation is for all students: no other child should have their right to a quality education stolen.

“If the deaf are to hear, the sound must be very loud.”

We want to be perfectly clear: teachers who do not teach yet maintain their salary and maintain their classes hurt everyone. It hurts hardworking teachers who break their backs for their students, it hurts students & families who gave up so much just for a chance at education and a better life, it hurts the Ministry of Education, it hurts the government, it hurts the public service, it hurts our nation, it hurts our future generations, it hurts everyone.

We love all the teachers who work hard in educating and teaching us. We deeply appreciate the sacrifices of our teachers. We all need teachers who are caring and dedicated like all of you. Teachers do not deserve to suffer while absent colleagues tarnish the reputation of the nation. Teachers do not deserve double-work because they’re forced to make-up for absent colleagues.

Quality education is our only hope to leave the cycle of poverty. Many in Kg. Taun Gusi, and in villages across Sabah & Malaysia, are of poor families. Out of 158 administrative districts in Malaysia, Kota Belud is 134th in median monthly household income. Out of 158, Kota Belud is 152nd in income inequality. As they say, “In reality, people aren’t going hungry because we cannot feed the poor. People are going hungry because we cannot satisfy the rich.” Enough is enough: end corruption in education, end abuse in education, end negligence in education.

October 2020 — High Court Update

20-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah binti Siman's public interest litigation case against the Ministry of Education and an allegedly seven-month absent teacher now has a new trial date.

The High Court trial is set for November 2 - 6, 2020. The previous May 4 -6, 8 dates were vacated by the High Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ever vigilant, Siti Nafirah remains extremely eager to proceed to a full High Court trial against the seven Defendants. Siti Nafirah's explosive allegations include misfeasance in public office, a seven-month absent teacher, and Ministry of Education officers' collaborating to fabricate government records in a chain stretching from Kampung Taun Gusi to the Kota Belud District Education Department and the Sabah State Education Department.

Siti Nafirah is one of the youngest Plaintiffs in Malaysian history. Her triple victories over the Federal Government during pre-trial case management have set the tone that children will no longer accept the culture of fear & silence by the Ministry of Education and its officers: 1) her victory over the Federal Government's striking out application, 2) her victorious Discovery application over the Federal Government's refusal to produce evidence, and 3) her victorious Further & Better Particulars application against the Federal Government's Defense.

"For most people, education is the best way out of poverty. Return to our students their right to a proper education."

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman, Chair of the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia on 18 April 2018 ⤤

Kota Belud is one of Malaysia's poorest administrative districts: ranked 134th of 158, the median monthly income is RM3,025. Worse yet, Kota Belud has been struck hard by income inequality. Registering a Gini Coefficient of 0.412, Kota Belud is ranked 151st of 158 with nearly Malaysia's highest level of income inequality. This data is sourced from the Department of Statistics Malaysia "Laporan Sosioekonomi 2019" released in early August 2020.

Still, cases of Education Ministry misconduct continue to affect Kota Belud, Sabah, in 2020. First, an English teacher was recently convicted to 11 years jail ⤤ after sexually assaulting an eight-year-old female primary student repeatedly in the school classroom. The girl's mother met the Kota Belud primary school principal, who then investigated and referred the case to the Kota Belud District Education Department. The mother lodged a police report against the teacher and he was arrested at school the next day. Second, 600 days after this civil suit was filed, the Sabah State Education Department admitted at least eight cases of absent school principals ⤤.

As Siti Nafirah stated at her High Court filing,

I want to be firm here. I love all the teachers who work hard in educating and teaching us. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of my teachers. We all need teachers who are caring and dedicated like all of you. My anguish is from the teachers who stole our rights...

18-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah on 31 October 2018

But with the existence of teachers who deny the right to education and school principals who are willing to lie in order to safeguard their own reputation, then the right to education,our hopes, and our dreams are shattered just like that. On a national level, I hope that the right to education for everystudent in the whole of Malaysia is prioritised. Never again should such mistreatment occur. When teachers do not enter their classes, it destroys our education and our future.

18-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah on 31 October 2018

Upcoming notable dates

  • The High Court trial will commence on Monday, November 2nd. It will continue on Tuesday, November 3rd | Wednesday, November 4th | Thursday, November 5th | Friday, November 6th.

The High Court has updated the trial dates from May to November, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures that affected nearly all cases.

January 2020 — High Court Update

20-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah's public interest litigation case will soon be heard, noted the High Court at the late December Mention.

To 21.1.2020 for further Mention at 9am. Trial dates on 4-6 & 8 May 2020.

— High Court of Sabah & Sarawak on 23 December 2019

Thus, May 4 - May 6, 2020 and May 8, 2020 have been set by the High Court as the TRIAL DATES. The High Court has also set Jan. 21, 2020 as final pre-trial case management.

Siti Nafirah is confident and enthusiastic for the High Court trial to commence, where she will prove her stated allegations against these seven Defendants and their multiple officers in a court of law.

Public interest litigation systematically breaks down walls of injustice, built against society's powerless, and thus casts light into dark corners. Recently, the High Court ruled in Plaintiff Siti Nafirah's favour in two victorious High Court interlocutory applications (Discovery; Further & Better Particulars) and a third near-total High Court victory in dismissing the Defendants' Striking Out Application.

"School is a place for teachers to teach, students to learn. But with the existence of teachers who deny the right to education and school principals who are willing to lie in order to safeguard their own reputation, then the right to education, our hopes, and our dreams are shattered just like that.
...
It is time to end this culture. I want each school to give the best education to its students. If there are teachers who do not enter class, this matter must be solved immediately. Teachers lose nothing if they don’t teach: students lose everything if they don’t learn. The culture of fear for speaking up must end."

18-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah on 31 October 2018

Siti Nafirah's allegations against these seven Defendants, in a chain that ran from a school in coastal Kota Belud, Sabah to the Ministry's offices in Putrajaya, include, but are not limited to, misfeasance in public office, extreme teacher absenteeism, Constitutional violations, and breach of statutory duty at Malaysia's Ministry of Education and will now be demonstrated in a full, public High Court trial in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Upcoming notable dates

  • The seventh High Court Mention was on Monday, December 23rd, 2019.
  • The Final Pre-Trial Case Management date is set for Tuesday, January 21st, 2020.
  • The High Court trial will commence on Monday, May 4th; Tuesday, May 5th; Wednesday, May 6th; and Friday, May 8th, 2020.

A High Court trial date has now been set: May 4 - May 6, 2020 and May 8, 2020.

September 2019 — High Court Update

In a second major victory, 19-year-old plaintiff Siti Nafirah binti Siman has again succeeded at the High Court: High Court Judge YA Tuan Ismail bin Brahim dismissed the Defendants' striking out application. Conversely, the High Court did strike out the 3rd Defendant SMK Taun Gusi as a named Defendant.

All seven other Defendants remain, including the (1) allegedly seven-month absent teacher Jainal Jamran, (2) SMK Taun Gusi school principal Hj. Suid bin Hj. Hanapi, (4) the Kota Belud District Education Officer, (5) the Sabah State Education Department Director, (6) Director General of Education Malaysia, (7) Minister of Education, and (8) the Government of Malaysia.

The Court will not strike out the application but however allow the 3rd Defendant to be struck out as one of the Defendant . There shall be no order as costs.

— High Court of Sabah & Sarawak Ruling on 4 September 2019

This ruling marks the beginning of the end of pre-trial case management. The Defendants have a 30-day window from this ruling to appeal their striking out application's dismissal at the Court of Appeal (editor's note: no appeal was filed).

Barring any further delays, Siti Nafirah's public interest litigation against alleged extreme teacher absenteeism, breach of statutory duty, and misfeasance in public office at Malaysia's Ministry of Education will now proceed to a full High Court trial in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

In regards to the July 2019 — High Court Update, the Defendants were forced to comply with the High Court Ruling & Court Order. Siti Nafirah, the Plaintiff, is now in possession of government evidence from Discovery that the Defendants did not voluntarily produce for the High Court previously in pre-trial case management. Likewise, the Plaintiff now has in writing the Further & Better Particulars demanded from the Defendants (from the same High Court Ruling & Court Order as as Discovery).

Upcoming notable dates

  • The fifth High Court Mention was on Thursday, October 10th, 2019.
  • The sixth  High Court mention was on Thursday, November 14th, 2019.
  • The seventh High Court mention is scheduled for Monday, December 23rd, 2019.

No trial date has been set.

July 2019 — High Court Update

In the first High Court ruling of the case—after four High Court mentions and five High Court hearings—19-year-old Plaintiff Siti Nafirah binti Siman has succeeded in both her Interlocutory Applications at the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak against the eight (8) Defendants.

Allowing both applications for Enclosure 19 and Enclosure 17. The costs of the applications shall be costs in the cause.

— High Court of Sabah & Sarawak Ruling on 18 July 2019

High Court Judge YA Tuan Ismail bin Brahim's Ruling  against the eight Defendants:

  1. Allowed the Plaintiff's Interlocutory Application for DISCOVERY (Enclosure 17) for evidence NOT voluntarily tendered by the Defendants;
  2. Allowed the Plaintiff's Interlocutory Application for FURTHER AND BETTER PARTICULARS (Enclosure 19);
  3. Set costs of the Applications to be costs in the cause.

Upcoming notable dates

  • Meanwhile, the Defendants began an Application to strike out this public interest litigation brought against them at the High Court. The Defendants' application has been filed under Rules of Court 2012, O. 18 r. 19; a ruling on the Defendants' Application  from the High Court is expected on 4 September 2019 at 9:00 am.

No trial date has been set.

October 2018 — High Court Filing

Seven months without a teacher: principal, Ministry of Education officers in breach of statutory duty, claims High Court case

Kota Belud District is one of the poorest in Malaysia

30 October 2018

  • SMK Taun Gusi is located in Kota Belud, Sabah, a coastal district; school less than 5 km from ocean and less than 90 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, state’s largest city and capital
  • Numerous notifications were cumulatively sent to district, state, and national education officers over seven-month absence (beginning in March, second month of absences)
  • At the end of year, “positive steps” were taken by the teacher, principal, Kota Belud District Education Office, & Sabah State Education Dept. to conceal seven-month absence
  • High Court remedies focused on declarations and aim to bring an end to these practices & the culture of fear and silence in schools for the next generation of Malaysian students

KOTA BELUD, Malaysia — By a public interest litigation case filed at the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak, 18-year-old Siti Nafirah binti Siman, a native of Kota Belud, Sabah, is standing up for the children who cannot so that failures of integrity and accountability in the education system can be remedied. A recent report by the Khazanah Research Institute showed 3 years of idle education in Malaysian schools due to poor education quality: this case is one such example of the widening education gap existing in Malaysian schools.1

Nafirah and her former classmates live in one of Malaysia’s poorest districts. A coastal area of Sabah, Kota Belud district is ranked 134th out of 158 administrative districts in median household income. Kota Belud also has one of the highest poverty rates (15 times the national average of 0.4%) and one highest levels of income inequality in Sabah.2 For Nafirah and her class, SMK Taun Gusi was their only hope to exit the cycle of poverty.

Nafirah was fifteen years old at the time of the events in the writ. Her father passed away when she was seven years old and she is the youngest, and only daughter, of five children. She is originally from Kg. Sembirai in Kota Belud; when she was four years old, her family moved to Kg. Jawi-Jawi, the village immediately beside SMK Taun Gusi and SK Taun Gusi, to be closer to the schools and to be taken care of by her grandmother.

These students’ families, including the Plaintiff’s, had been preparing their children for a brighter future for decades, making enormous sacrifices just for a chance that perhaps their children’s life may be better than theirs. Many can trace in our own family histories one person who overcame insurmountable odds to succeed and set their future progeny on a course of prosperity. For these once-in-a-generation individuals, it was often education that was the key and in our Plaintiff’s case, it was this right that was denied by the very people trusted to safeguard this right to education, above their personal interests and to act with integrity and accountability.

Footnotes:
1. Khazanah Research Institute, The State of Households 2018: Different Realities, October 2018.
2. Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2016.

October 2018 — The Plaintiff's Speech

"To make matters worse, this teacher was protected by the school."

The international release of Siti Nafirah's public statement about her case at the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak. This public interest litigation centers on the right to a quality education in Malaysia.

KOTA BELUD, Malaysia | 7 August 2019

  • This statement was issued by Siti Nafirah binti Siman on 30 October 2018, the date when summons were sent to the eight Defendants. This statement has been approved by Siti Nafirah binti Siman's legal team.
  • The original language was Bahasa Malaysia; below is a verified English translation.
In 2015, I was one of the Form 4 Commerce students that was victimised by our English teacher who did not enter our class from the month of February until the month of October. My friends and I were deeply disturbed at that time as we were afraid we would fail our examinations. We wanted to learn. We always waited for our English teacher to arrive and enter class to teach. Only just before the final year examinations began, this teacher entered into class once again, after having abandoned us for months.

On this day, I raise up the voice of our generation that has been silenced all this while. I am a representative of this generation of students who calls upon all the students in Malaysia to be courageous in defending their right to education without fear and hopelessness. School is a place for teachers to teach, students to learn. But with the existence of teachers who deny the right to education and school principals who are willing to lie in order to safeguard their own reputation, then the right to education, our hopes, and our dreams are shattered just like that. On a national level, I hope that the right to education for every student in the whole of Malaysia is prioritised. Never again should such mistreatment occur. When teachers do not enter their classes, it destroys our education and our future.

I want to be firm here. I love all the teachers who work hard in educating and teaching us. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of my teachers. We all need teachers who are caring and dedicated like all of you. My anguish is from the teachers who stole our rights, who did not teach us well to the point we failed our examinations. To make matters worse, this teacher was protected by the school. No action was taken. This teacher is still at the school and still had not entered to teach. Why did the school silence this case even though it was obvious that our right to education was stolen? Where is the accountability from all parties in our case? Why did the principal not take any action? Why did the PPD ignore us? Why did the JPN keep silent?

Quality education is our hope to change from poverty. At SMK Taun Gusi, most of the students are from poor and needy families. At this school, too, most teachers have experienced suffering and poverty when they were students like us. Now, all of them are successful and their lives are better because they received a good education. To the teachers who victimise us, who steal our right to education: we too want to learn. We too want to be successful and improve our families’ lives.

It is time to end this culture. I want each school to give the best education to its students. If there are teachers who do not enter class, this matter must be solved immediately. Teachers lose nothing if they don’t teach: students lose everything if they don’t learn. The culture of fear for speaking up must end.

Without teachers, we cannot be successful; we fail to achieve our ambitions. Without teachers, we lose direction, we lose education. Without education, our lives become abject and meaningless.

For the future of our generation, what is more important than teachers in the classroom teaching?

— Siti Nafirah binti Siman, 18-year-old Plaintiff