Plaintiff Press
Statements

From Siti Nafirah binti Siman (the Plaintiff), authorized by Messrs Roxana & Co
High Court Case No. BKI-2NCvC-101/10-2018

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 123rd out of 143 districts and federal states 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.

Summary of the Claim (PDF) ⤤

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

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