Justice For The Working Class
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I demand that the Ruling Government take the proper action necessary to protect the rights of workers, or as Malaysians would call it "orang yang makan gaji". The system is flawed whereby the working class who seek justice shall not get it unless they have the means (money). In my own words, justice belongs to the rich.
I was terminated without justification from a statutory body. Despite putting up the good fight, it seemed as though I have lost. However I am not giving up.
Below is my story.
I started employment with the Asia Europe Institute, University of Malaya (based on a letter dated 21st May 2014) as a Research Assistant with a basic salary of RM2000. The employment was a one-year contract and was subsequently renewed for another year with employment valid for the period of 13th May 2015 to 14th May 2016 and a new basic salary of RM2100.
On 8th September 2015, I received a termination letter from the Institute stating that effective 1st March 2015, University of Malaya no longer allows the Institute’s operations budget to be used as emolument, and that all new appointments and re-appointments of research assistants must be paid for by a research grant or a specific fund, (referred as “PTj” in the termination letter). In the termination letter the Institute also states that due to this, there is a need to reduce costs and therefore terminate my employment .
Upon request for the evidence, I was presented a letter addressed to the Institute dated 6th March 2015 and was stamped and acknowledged as ‘received’ by the Institute on 9th March 2015. Paragraph 3 (5) of the letter states that all new employment and re-employment of staff for the purpose of research such as “Felo Penyelidik” and “Pasca Kedoktoran” are to employed through a “geran penyelidikan”, “geran Pasca Kedoktoran” or “tabung PTj” effective 1st March 2015.
This letter was received and acknowledged by the Institute BEFORE the renewal of my contract in April 2015 for my contract valid for 13th May 2015 to 14th May 2016.
I am extremely appalled at this despicable means of cheating the workers by giving false excuses for termination.
In Malaysian labour law, the four principle acceptable grounds for termination are:
1) Gross misconduct
2) Poor performance
4) Cessation of Operations
None of these four were proven for the grounds of termination. In fact, the Asia Europe Institute is still functioning to this day. (See recent video: https://www.facebook.com/AsiaEuropeInstitute/videos/1692876530819161/
Within the 60 day time frame from the date of termination, I made an application at the Industrial Relations (IR) office at PERKESO to seek compensation. When the former employer and I met for negotiation, they did not want to offer reinstatement nor any form of monetary compensation. Thus, I told the officer that I would like to have this case referred to the Industrial Court (this happened around March 2016). The IR officer had notified me at that time that there was a 50-50 chance of it being referred to Industrial Court as this involved a statutory body. However, the Minister of Human Resources has approved for it to be in the said court.
On 30th March 2017, during the first mention, the defendant's lawyer (Asia Europe Institute) stated that the case should not fall under Industrial Court but civil court as it involved a statutory body and that they would like to pursue a Judicial Review. Upon my own research, Section 26 (2) of the Industrial Relations Act does provide for any statutory body etc to be referred to Industrial Court under certain conditions.
Long story short, the High Court sided with the University of Malaya, on the basis that Asia Europe Institute is not a legal entity. Thus the decision of the Minister of Human Resources to refer my case to the Labour court was deemed improper.
Despite all the efforts that I have done to follow procedures, rule of law, it has brought me nowhere. Should I wish to take any further action, I will have to file a fresh lawsuit in the High Court which will be very costly (lawyer fees and court fees).
My demands of the ruling government:
1) That the Asia Europe Institute in University of Malaya is fully and completely audited from the years 2012 to 2017 to check for misuse of funds
2) That the laws will be amended to ensure that persons employed, whether permanently or by contract in any statutory body, will be given the protection necessary when employers do not adhere to labour law, rather than needing to go through several processes.
3) That the Asia Europe Institute compensate me with the balance of my salary for the remainder of the contract they did not honour.
The Barisan Nasional coalition said in their manifesto that if any petition receives 30,000 signatures, they will "look into the matter" (Mekanisme petisyen awam). The Pakatan Harapan coalition says that they want "eradicate corruption".
Whichever government takes over, I wish that the people will stand by me to demand that our rights, our laws, and our justice system is protected, and demand the current government to take action.
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