Sacked teacher defends right to attend Anwar talk

From left to right: Mohd Hisham, Sitti Salma, Qatrunnada, Harieyadi and Khairuddin.

LABUAN: Qatrunnada Mohd Latfi yesterday expressed her disappointment with the Islamic Department of Federal Territory (JAWI) for terminating her service as a teacher of Sekolah Rendah Agama Islam Rancha Rancha here.

The 24-year-old who served as a teacher at the school since January 5, last year received a letter on October 24 informing her contract had been terminated for allegedly attending a public talk by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on September 15 here.

Qatrunnada admitted that she had attended the talk as she firmly believed that as a voter for the first time in the coming general election, she had the right to know the leaders of this country.

“Honestly, I did not expect that this kind of thing would happen on me as I was thinking that this country is practising democratic principle. As a citizen of this country, I have my right.

“I feel disappointed with JAWI which is supposed to be a professional entity that protects the rights of its staff and not being influenced by any political body,” she said.

Qatrunnada recalled that she received a call from a senior Umno leader here at 5.02pm on October 9 asking her whether she was involved in the activity of an opposition political party.

Qatrunnada, who is a secretary of a non-governmental organisation here, NISA, informed the caller that other than teaching at the school, she was also doing some social activities with her associates in NISA, especially for women.

“On October 19, a senior officer from Labuan JAWI came to my school and he met the headmaster and me. I was asked about my work performance and outside activities after school hours.

“Then on October 22, I was called to go to the Labuan JAWI office and I was questioned once again by the senior officers there about my activities other than teaching and I told them that I am a member of NISA.

“NISA is focusing on doing activities for welfare, social and humanity,” she said, adding that she disclosed all the details to the two senior officers at Labuan JAWI office.

Two days later on October 24, she received a letter terminating her contract effective December 1.

Qatrunnda said that the caller should not have directly called her but her school head or the department first.

Subsequently, on November 19 she submitted a letter of appeal to Labuan JAWI.

But two days later, JAWI replied that there was no need to show the reason for her ending her contract.

Qatrunnada graduated in October 2010 from Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Labuan International School (UMSA-KAL) majoring in Islamic Finance. She worked as an accounts executive in the private sector before teaching at the school.

She was a former student leader at the campus’ Student Representative Council.

When asked about her mother’s reaction, Qatrunnda replied that she asked her why she had to attend the talk.

“I explained to my mother about my intention and she understands and supports me,” she said.

Meanwhile, the president of an NGO, Inisiatif Selamatkan Insan Tertindas (INSAN), Harieyadi Karmin, said that the action of JAWI to sack Qatrunnada was not relevant.

“Before this, a staff at JAWI was sacked due to political influence. We are against this kind of action and we do not want the JAWI’s image to be tarnished because of a thing like this.

“This kind of action did not picture its true vision as it is unprofessional.

“We do have information that around 20 government staff in various departments and agencies here are now under their long list to be ‘terminated’ after they were found to attend the public talk by the opposition leader here.

The chairman for Solidariti Anak Muda Sabah (SAMS), Khairuddin Daud, urged the government departments and agencies to be more professional in their action towards their staff.

“We want JAWI to take immediate action to clean up their image and we do support other NGOs’ moves to defend Qatrunnada and those who are treated unjustly,” he said.

Another NGO, Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (GAMIS) and its president, Mohd Hisham Mohd Jais said that JAWI had violated human rights.

“Any citizen of this country should freely attend any public talk by any political party. The JAWI’s action towards Qatrunnada showed that there is a political influence in the department.

“The government said that graduates must seek employment as soon as after they graduated from their studies, but their action towards her (Qatrunnada) is against their aspiration,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chairperson for NISA, Sitti Salma Ambo, thanked the other NGOs for their support and she hoped that this kind of thing should serve as a lesson to protect the rights of other government servants.

“When Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin came here recently, all the government servants were ordered to attend a session to listen to his political talk,” she said.

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