Ex-teacher tells Putrajaya to fight gender bias, not landmark discrimination suit

From left: Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, lawyer Honey Tan, pupil Arina Ong, Noorfadilla's husband Izwan, and lawyer Joachim Xavier, after the judgement at the Shah Alam High Court. — Picture courtesy of Honey Tan
From left: Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, lawyer Honey Tan, pupil Arina Ong, Noorfadilla's husband Izwan, and lawyer Joachim Xavier, after the judgement at the Shah Alam High Court. — Picture courtesy of Honey Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — A former teacher who won RM300,000 over her dismissal due to pregnancy today urged Putrajaya to help defeat institutionalised gender discrimination by accepting the decision in her landmark case.

Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin appealed to the federal government to honour its pledge to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council last year and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) that it had ratified nearly 20 years ago.

The mother of four visited Parliament today to also rally support among lawmakers to push the government to amend Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution on equality to eliminate gender bias in both the public and private sectors.

“I hope the members of parliament will lend their support to amend the provision as many women out there have to face this injustice every other day,” she told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

Yesterday, the Shah Alam High Court awarded the 32-year-old RM300,000 in damages for breach of her constitutional right to gender equality after the government refused to employ her as a temporary teacher when she became pregnant.

The government was also ordered to pay Noorfadilla RM12,907.68 for loss of earnings, RM2,296.10 for loss of EPF (Employees Provident Fund), RM912.71 for loss of EPF dividends, as well as RM25,000 for pain and suffering, and RM5,000 in costs.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to everyone who had supported me in the past five year,” she said today.

“I was victimised twice, first, when my appointment was retracted, and secondly, when the government filed an appeal in 2011.

“I hope they will not appeal my case again,” said Noorfadilla.

The homemaker sued the government in 2010 after Hulu Langat district education officers revoked her appointment in 2009 as a temporary teacher on a month-to-month basis upon discovering her pregnancy.

The Shah Alam High Court ruled in 2011 that the government had discriminated against Noorfadilla and, in a landmark decision, held that CEDAW had the force of law in Malaysia as the country had acceded to the human rights treaty in 1995.

Noorfadilla’s lawyer, Honey Tan, yesterday said the government appealed against the High Court decision but withdrew it at the last minute. The Court of Appeal then ordered RM5,000 in costs.

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