High Court dimisses Bank Negara’s application in unlawful dismissal case

Kohila, an activist, was sacked by Bank Negara Malaysia in 2017 for activities she was involved in at her own time. Among the charges against her was releasing a statement from JERIT supporting PSM in the elections and wearing an Anti-GST (Goods and Services Tax) t-shirt during a May Day rally. These activities took place during Barisan Nasional rule when the GST was introduced by the government.

Kohila is fighting the case because it is an unlawful dismissal and encroaches into her rights under the Constitution. Bank Negara Malaysia has definitely been biased, and acting in bad faith when they removed one of their staff for activities she did in her free time. Dissenting is not a crime.

On the 9th of October 2020 in the KL High Court, Justice Dato Ahmad Bache dismissed Bank Negara Malaysia’s application on a question of law and called for a full trial. He stated that he is taking a holistic approach and only a full trial will allow a level playing field for both parties.

This decision today was pursuant to Bank Negara’s application under Order 33 of the Rules of Court 2012. During the submission on 9 September 2020, Counsel for Bank Negara Steven Thiru argued that the court should decide the constitutionality argument first and this will be able to save up to 50 % of the time to be spent on trial. On the contrary, Kohila’s lawyer Wei Jiet argued that Bank Negara is only talking about one cause of action out of six other points and their argument is just a hypothetical assumption.

The Question of law is if the Code of Ethics of Bank Negara is against the Constitution. Bank Negara wants this issue be resolved first, but Kohila’s lawyer argued that they are questioning the implementation, not the constitutionality. Besides Bank Negara should not try to narrow or confine the arguments of the defence to a small scope.

Today the Judge said that the main question is if the matter will save time and expenses. He ruled that it will not, and for justice to be served,it is best that the whole issue goes for trial. The Judge said that both parties should be given the same level playing field. Today Kohila was represented by Bawani KS while Bank Negara was represented by Steven Thiru.

The Judge wanted both parties to work hard to settle the matter, failing which he wanted the case to be heard soon. The trial dates were fixed on 11-14 January 2021.

S.Arutchelvan
9 October 2020

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