Missing jet engines: 5 ex-RMAF officers’ wrongful dismissal suit struck off (Update)

KUALA LUMPUR: Five former Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) officers, including a brigadier-general, who sued the Armed Forces Council for wrongful dismissal, have their suit struck out by the High Court.

The five had claimed that they had been wrongfully dismissed after an inquiry held over the two missing RMAF F5E fighter jet engines.

The five plaintiffs are Brig-Jen Datuk Abdul Hadi Abdul Khatab, 57, Mejar Rusli Ibrahim, 48, Kolonel Mohamad Sani Sumarnak, 55, Mejar Noor Zelan Draman, 45, and Leftenan Kolonel Mohamed Ariff Mohd Daud, 47.

Judicial Commissioner Zabariah Mohd Yusof struck out the suit in her chambers on Friday on grounds that it was frivolous, vexatious and abuse of the court process.

Justice Zabariah ruled that the five officers should instead apply to challenge the decision of their superior to "retire early from service" by way of judicial review.

Justice Zabariah also ordered the plaintiffs to pay a total of RM7,000 in costs to the defendants.

Therefore, the five failed to get a declaration that the motion initiated by Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for their retirement was invalid.

They also failed to get a declaration that they have rights for their salary, allowances and other benefits.

Justice Zabariah made the ruling after hearing submissions from lawyer Mohd Syahril Daud, who acted for the five plaintiffs, and Senior Federal Counsel Aida Adhha Abu Bakar and SFC Suhaila Haron who represented the defendants.

SFC Aida told reporters that the court found that the five plaintiffs were public servants under Article 132 of the Federal Constitution and, therefore, they should have quashed the decision of their superior "to retire early from service" by way of judicial review and not by filing of originating summons.

SFC Aida said the court also found that the cancellation of their commission by the King was in accordance to law.

Mohd Syahril told the media that his clients could not file the application for judicial review now as the 40-day period for filing had lapsed and would seek further instructions whether to appeal against the court ruling.

The five, who were from the RMAF logistics department, sought between RM500,000 and RM5mil in damages and not a reinstatement.

They named the council, Jen Azizan and the Government as defendants in the civil action.

In their respective originating summons, they claimed that Jen Azizan or the council in a letter dated Nov 5, 2007, directed each of them to explain allegations of misconduct and negligence.

Each plaintiff said they subsequently replied and denied the allegations. However, they said they were forced to retire without explanations over the alleged misconduct, adding that they had a valid employment contract.

The five also said they were embarrassed by the whole affair as it implied that they had cheated the Government, abetted with certain contractors to dupe the Government and that they had caused the Government to suffer losses due to their negligence.

The engines were discovered missing from the Sungai Besi RMAF air base during routine maintenance service in 2007.

Also missing were the engines' maintenance and service records

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