An English teacher and four others have allegedly not yet filed their statement of defence against a lawsuit over the teacher's purported failure to turn up for classes at a school in Kota Belud, Sabah.
This allegation regarding the five defendants was made by the representatives of the three plaintiffs who are former students at the school.
The three plaintiffs are Rusiah Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali and Calvina Angayung. They are all aged 19 now.
In December last year, it was reported that the three plaintiffs had filed the suit against teacher Mohd Jainal Jamran and the four others. Law firm Messrs Roxana & Co is acting for the three plaintiffs.
The other four defendants are the school's former principal Suid Hanapi, the Education Department director-general, the education minister and the government of Malaysia.
The students are suing Jainal over his alleged failure to teach an English language class between March and November 2017.
The teacher is also facing a separate legal action by another student for his purported failure to turn up for classes for seven months at the same school in 2015.
In a media statement, the representatives for Rusiah, Nur Natasha and Calvina claimed that the five defendants had yet to file their statement of defence after more than 130 days of the filing of the suit. The suit was filed on Dec 22 last year.
The representatives claimed that following the filing of the suit on Dec 22 last year, there had already been four mentions of the suit this year, namely on Jan 4, Feb 8, March 11 and April 20. They contended that over 135 days have passed as of May 5.
"Today, over 130 days later, the defendants still have no defence filed at the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in the proceedings of BKI-22-NCvC-88/11-2020 (the suit's case number). The defendants are represented by the Attorney-General's Chambers.
"After a writ of summons has been issued against the defendants and the defendants have entered their appearance, the defendants have 14 days to file their defence under Order 18 Rule 2 (Rules of Court 2012).
"The High Court of Sabah and Sarawak's portal previously reported its last case update as, "Final: e-Review for the Defendants to file Defence is fixed on June 4, 2021".
"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," the trio's representatives said.
'Arrive late' for classes
According to a copy of the lawsuit, the three were students in the same class, "4 Sains Sukan (4SS)" at the school between January 2014 and December 2018.
The trio claimed that Jainal, who was assigned to 4SS to teach English thrice a week for the duration of the 2017 academic year from January to October, only turned up for the class in January and February.
“However, by March 2017, the first defendant (Jainal) would frequently arrive late for his English class and would leave the class early or would not attend at all.
“During numerous instances of late attendance and/or no attendance, the plaintiffs had to go to the first defendant at his office to remind and/or request him to attend the English class he was assigned to.
“Save for a few instances where the first defendant would attend class but fail to teach, the first defendant would ignore the plaintiffs’ requests,” they alleged.
The trio further alleged that between March and July 2017, Jainal would intermittently or inconsistently attend 4SS, but that due to his alleged entering class late and leaving class early, he purportedly failed, refused and/or neglected to teach the students the prescribed syllabus.
“On or about July 14, 2017, the first defendant had completely abandoned his duties to teach the students of 4SS the English language and to prepare them by failing, refusing and/or neglecting to enter the class again,” they claimed.
The plaintiffs claimed that despite complaints lodged with several teachers and administrators at the school, no action was taken against Jainal, nor was 4SS provided with a substitute teacher.
They are seeking a court declaration, among others, that all five defendants are in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act 1996 to ensure the three plaintiffs were taught English during the nine-month period in 2017, as well as prepare the plaintiffs for their examinations.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that all five defendants have violated the trio’s fundamental right to access to education enshrined under Article 5 read with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution.
They are claiming exemplary, general and aggravated damages, costs, and any further relief deemed fit by the court.
This is not the first time SMK Taun Gusi had been in the news.
Previously in 2013, a mother filed a police report and urged action from the Sabah Education Department for allegedly failing to bring her then 14-year-old son to the police station or hospital after he was assaulted by a group of students.
Masdah Tabulung claimed that school administrators instead caned her son.