'Bunking’ teacher cases in Sabah set to be heard in September

KOTA KINABALU: Two civil cases against an English language teacher from a rural secondary school in Sabah’s northern Kota Belud district over absenteeism are set to begin in the High Court here this month.

The first lawsuit was filed by former SMK Taun Gusi student Siti Nafirah Siman in October 2018 in which she named eight defendants including the teacher, principal, district and state education directors, the Education Minister and the Federal Government.

Siti Nafirah, who is now 22 years old, had claimed the teacher had failed to turn up to class to teach for seven months in 2015.

She also named the Kota Belud District Education officer, Sabah Education Department director, Education director-general, Education Minister and Malaysian Government in her suit as she claimed the defendants took no reasonable action despite being notified of the matter.

In a press conference in Penampang near here on Friday (Sept 2), she said her trial was scheduled to take place from Sept 12, almost four years after she filed the case in court.

The second lawsuit was filed by a group comprising Rusiah Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali and Calvina Angayung, all former SMK Taun Gusi students as well, against the same teacher in December 2020.

Besides the teacher, they also named the principal, the Education director-general, the Education Minister and the Federal Government as defendants.

They also said they obtained a restraining order injunction they applied from the High Court against the teacher, principal, the Education director-general and Education Minister - the first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively - on Sept 7 last year.

The injunction, they said, was to restrain the defendants from taking extra-judicial actions to harass the plaintiffs.

Rusiah, Natasha and Calvina, whose trial is set to begin on Monday (Sept 5), almost two years after their case was filed, said they decided to proceed with the litigation against the teacher and others after being inspired by the bravery shown by their senior Siti Nafirah.

The trio, all aged 21 now, said they filed the lawsuit claiming the teacher refused to enter their class for over four months in 2017 when they were 16 years old.

Siti Nafirah noted she was looking forward to her and her former schoolmates’ cases being heard in open court.

“I want all of Malaysia to hear from my side and the ministry’s side. I want the evidence submitted in open court.

“I want you to see what I saw. And then, let an independent judge question us all,” she said.

The four plaintiffs will be represented by a legal team comprising Roxana Jamaludin, Shireen Sikayun, Jubili Anilik and Dominic J Omok.

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