KOTA KINABALU (Nov 23): An expert witness who examined psychological effects suffered by former students of a secondary school in Kota Belud, testified that it was proven that these students, who had allegedly been denied their learning rights for several months in 2017, have the abilities to study better and have chances to excel in the English language subject.
Dr Noor Aishah Rosli, 46, who is a child clinical psychologist, told Justice Leonard David Shim that the findings proved the said results obtained after the three plaintiffs sat for an IQ test conducted by her.
Rusiah Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali and Calvina Angayung, all aged 21, have filed a civil suit against their former English language teacher and four other defendants for not entering their form four Sports Science class for several months in 2017 to teach them the subject.
The trial was held virtually via Zoom from the Kota Kinabalu Court house on Wednesday.
Under examination-in-chief by counsel Sherzali Herza Asli, who represented the plaintiffs, the witness, who is also a registered counselor that owns a private psychology clinic in Selangor, had also testified about her findings on two emotions suffered by the plaintiffs which were the lost of self-esteem and self-confidence.
“These two emotions will be affected if someone misses the chance to get a better life in future from a standard learning in school.
“In another words, from psychological perspective during clinical diagnostic and interviews session, I find that the plaintiffs had lost their self-confidence and lack of self-esteem when the opportunity and rights to learn the said subject were denied when in fact the plaintiffs had interest to learn the subject,” the ninth witness testified.
To a question, Dr Noor Aishah also stated in her report that the plaintiffs had suffered from structural violence which she explained was a series of violence or injustice done on them by a same individual under a similar setting.
“In this case, when I met with the plaintiffs, I was informed that the teacher allegedly did not enter class many times and this incident had allegedly happened during previous year.
“This alleged scenario which I say as structural violence because it allegedly happened repeatedly until it affected the psychological well-being of the plaintiffs,” she said.
Sherzali: Why did the plaintiffs engage your service to do your report?
Witness: Actually, I was approached by a representative from US. I forgot the name of the funding.
The witness, who has a lot of experience on giving evidence and prepared reports for court cases, further explained that the representative whom she referred to as Mr Ibrahim had through his email asked her if she is an expert to prepare a report for the plaintiffs in relation with this case.
Meanwhile, under cross-examination by Senior Federal Counsel Mohd Hafizi Abd Halim, who acted for the defendants, the witness testified that the test was conducted on the plaintiffs, who were accompanied by an escort teacher, when they came to her clinic on December 12, 2019.
Mohd Hafizi: You said you were contacted by Mr Ibrahim, did you know him personally?
Witness: No, I did not know him personally.
Mohd Hafizi: Did Mr Ibrahim explain any other things about himself?
Witness: Yes he did. He told me that he teaches an English language subject and he is from US under the Teaching English as a Second Language program.
Mohd Hafizi: You did testify about funding, can you explain?
Witness: According to Mr Ibrahim, he was with a big organisation that helps people, which being persecuted or people who are unable to defend their rights for example, not getting education access accordingly.
Mohd Hafizi: Based on your evidence, I put it to you that it was not an initiative by the plaintiffs to meet you but it was Mr Ibrahim’s initiative, agree?
Witness: The plaintiffs wanted to get their rights for education, so Mr Ibrahim and the plaintiffs had tried to seek psychological expert opinions from me.
The court stood down for a while after the witness was disconnected from Zoom.
When the court resumed, the witness continued to testify and she agreed to a question that Ibrahim was the one who contacted her first, not the plaintiffs.
Mohd Hafizi: Did you charge any fee for your service of conducting test and preparing report?
Witness: Yes, I did.
Mohd Hafizi then asked “Who paid for your service?” Sherzali raised an objection saying that the defendants’ counsel was asking privilege information.
Mohd Hafizi argued that there was no privilege in the question but he informed the court that he will leave it in his submission later.
The court then asked whether the witness wanted to answer the question and she inquired what was the effect of her answer, to which the court said that it was depending on what was her reasons.
The witness had chosen to answer the question and she testified that her service was paid by the organisation through Ibrahim.
“Here I want to emphasize that I run psychology services through my psychology clinic which is a private clinic.
“So, as a private clinic, I must charge certain fees and all of my court cases were through my private clinic and charging clients is normal in the mental health industry,” explained Dr Noor Aishah
Mohd Hafizi: Did Mr Ibrahim ever contact you via phone?
Witness: Our conversation via phone on Sunday evening using Google Meet application which lasted 15 to 20 minutes.
Dr Noor Aishah said that the conversation did not touch about what allegedly happened in school but merely an informal conversation.
Mohd Hafizi: How about when you were contacted via email by Mr Ibrahim, did he tell you a little bit about what allegedly happened in school?
Witness: Yes, he did.
Mohd Hafizi: What did Mr Ibrahim inform you about the alleged incident in school?
Witness: The conversation actually continued on WhatsApp where he expressed concern on students who were not getting education access properly and teachers, who did not enter class to teach students were unethical and it should be stopped.
Mohd Hafizi: You received all these information without making an assesment on the plaintiffs?
Mohd Hafizi: And that was the same stories you heard from the plaintiffs before making an assessment on them, agree?
Witness: Yes, I agree.
Mohd Hafizi: But you did not hear the version from the school or from the said teachers?
The three plaintiffs filed the suit against Mohd Jainal Jamran, Hj Suid Hj Hanapi (sued in his capacity as the principal of the school), Director-general of Education Malaysia, Minister of Education Malaysia and Government of Malaysia.
They have named them as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants respectively in their suit.
Rusiah, Nur Natasha and Calvina are seeking reliefs against the defendants namely a declaration that they are allegedly in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act 1996 for allegedly failing to ensure that they were taught the English language during the period of March 2017 to November 2017.
They also sought a declaration that the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants are allegedly in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act 1996 by allegedly failing to prepare them for examinations as prescribed under the Education Act.
Apart from that the plaintiffs also wanted declarations that the second defendant is allegedly in breach of his duties under Regulation 3C, 25, 26 Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 and the alleged acts of the first and second defendants complained of amounts to misfeasance in public office.
Lastly, they sought a declaration that the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants have allegedly violated their constitutional right to access to education guaranteed to them under Article 5 read together with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution.
Federal Counsel Fazrul Fardiansyah Abdul Kadir also acted for the defendants.