Witness uses camera to record teacher’s absenteeism


KOTA KINABALU (Nov 24): The High Court here on Thursday was told that a full report prepared by an educator to expose the absenteeism of a teacher at a school in Kota Belud was rejected.

She then took the bold step to gather evidence through video recordings in a classroom.

The star witness testified before Justice Leonard David Shim that the issue of the teacher did not enter classes to teach students was discovered in 2015 and a series of efforts had been taken to expose the scandal.

Under examination-in-chief by counsel Sherzali Herza Asli, who represented the three former students namely Rusiah Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali and Calvina Angayung, the 10th witness explained that she took the initiative to hide a GoPro camera inside a recycled box and placed it inside the form four Sports Science class so that the students would not notice it.

She testified that the first video was recorded on September 25, 2017 on Monday at about 9.45am, five minutes early before an English language class was about to start.

The witness explained that the English language class should start at 9.45am but it was seen in the recording that a teacher, whom she referred to as Mr JJ was not seen entering the class.

“The second video was taken on the same day but different time which was at 10.45am and still Mr JJ was not seen in the class.

“The third video was taken the next day at 7.01am, and still no footage of Mr JJ entering the class seen,” the witness testified.

She further explained the fourth video was also taken on the same day as the third video but at different time which was at 8.01am when Mr JJ’s class had ended and the teacher was still not around.

To a question, she said that she recorded many videos which she has 80 recording files taken inside the said classroom throughout September 2017 and within that period, Mr JJ never entered the class.

Before effort to secretly record footage from the said classroom, the witness said she attempted to reveal the problem by making copies of Mr JJ’s attendance and showed to the school head.

The witness testified that the copies of the attendance were from official documents kept by the school in record books used to monitor absent cases of students.

“To my knowledge, these books were rarely being checked from my observation up to 2015.

“I made copies of all the classes’ record books and that was how I found out there are similar cases.

Every teacher was supposed to sign their attendance and for the said class’ record book, it was unsigned and no record made by the teacher,” she said.

She further said that the full report of the issue prepared by her was not accepted and the principal allegedly uttered that her report was of bad quality and it would be rejected if presented in court.

She testified that the principal would allegedly do nothing in regards to the said problem of teacher for not entering a number of classes in the said school.

Not only her report was rejected at that time, but the witness further testified that she had been allegedly intimidated by two other teachers if the issue was brought up to the district education office and she would lose the entire school’s support.

The witness claimed in her testimony by saying that “I was humiliated, scolded, blamed, scapegoated and threatened, two times to death. My car tyres were slashed a few days right after the death threats.

That was the reason why I decided not to go through the same situation when the alleged school admins were completely ignorant. I know that I must do something more believable in my evidence, that’s all”.

To a question, the witness said that she had provided extra classes for the three plaintiffs and their classmates at that time.

“I was first approached by Nur Natasya (second plaintiff) as they were feeling the stress of up-and-coming exam as they had no classes anymore.

“They could not learn English language and as a result they had chosen to attend my extra classes,” the witness said.

When asked about one Mr Ibrahim, the witness explained that Mr Ibrahim is from America and he was the first and only support system for students who experienced the situation of teacher not entering classes.

She further said that when there were allegedly no school admins or teachers who stood up for the students, Ibrahim did.

“He talked to many teachers at the school, officers at the district education office, education department and ministry to make sure the students received justice. The following year, Mr Ibrahim had sponsored the students a private tuition to make up whatever was missing in 2013, especially when the students were going to sit for the SPM exam,” the witness added.

To another question, the witness testified that the third plaintiff, who got the leaked exam questions allegedly from Mr JJ, came to her immediately and showed the questions to her.

“I was quite surprised that he allegedly leaked the questions to the students a few days before the English paper exam. I actually made a copy of the leaked questions written by one of the students,” said the witness.

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.

Senior Federal Counsel Mohd Hafizi Abd Halim and Federal Counsel Fazriel Fardiansyah Abdul Kadir acted for the defendants.

The trial will continue on January 9-11, 2023.