Former deputy chief minister of Sarawak, and nine former members of Dewan Undangan Negeri and administration have won their case against the state government, which had failed to pay their enhanced pensions even though they were entitled to such privileges under the law.
They had to sue the government to seek justice. Their case was heard by the High Court of Kuching on March 28, 2008 which ordered the state government to pay in the case of Tajem (pic above) one half of his salary of RM12,500 per month and one half of his salary as a member of Dewan Undangan Negeri of RM3,000 and that amount came to be RM7,750 a month.
The pension should have been calculated based on the June 1, 1992 amendment of the Members of the Administration and Members of Dewan Undangan Negeri (Remuneration, Pensions and Gratuities) Ordinance 1980.
But the government failed to pay his enhanced pensions. Instead the government paid him only a pension of RM3,000 a month.
The state government went to the Court of Appeal. The case was heard on Feb 19, 2009 and the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Kuching High Court.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, the state government represented by JC Fong, state legal counsel, applied to the Federal Court for leave of appeal. The case was heard last week and the Apex court concurred with the decision of the Court of Appeal.
More legal actions likely
Following the decision, the state government may have to face more legal actions from former members of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, former ministers, assistant ministers, political secretaries and their widows who are in similar positions.
Tajem, who represented the group at the Federal Court hearing had served as deputy chief minister in the cabinets of Abdul Rahman Yakub and later Abdul Taib Mahmud from 1980 to 1987.
Contacted today, he said that the decision of the Federal Court has a snowballing effect.
“In truth, it is a representative action on behalf of the former members of Dewan Undangan Negeri and former members of the Administration.
“The government has failed to honour these people who had served the state and who are entitled to enhanced pensions which came into effect after June 1, 1992.
“All elected representatives, ministers, assistant ministers and political secretaries who have been pensioned must be given enhanced pensions according to the law, which have been denied due to misinterpretation of the law by the state government,” he said.
“There are 10 former members of the state assembly who have instituted court proceedings against the government for the payment of arrears against their pensions,” he said, adding that the government might have to come up with at least RM5 million to pay them.
'Arrears of eight years to be paid'
“Even the arrears of payment of the 10 who have taken suits could easily amount to RM2 million and to be back-dated to six years from the day they filed the suits. And most of these cases have been ongoing for more than two years.
“That means arrears of eight years to be paid,” he added.
Among them, Tajem, who has monthly arrears of RM2,750 is expected to receive more than RM300,000 in arrears plus interests. Former minister Hafsah Harun is next and is followed by former assistant minister Ambrose Gramong. Gramong has monthly arrears of RM2,000. The others are former members of Dewan Undangan Negeri and political secretaries.
There are also those who will ride the bandwagon and they include former deputy chief minister Dunstan Endawie, former ministers Joseph Balan Seling, Tajang Laing, Leo Moggie and Sulaiman Daud.
After the order has been extracted, Tajem said that all the litigants would present a bill of costs to be taxed against the government.
“The government will be given a time frame to pay, failing which they may take a writ of mandamus against the chief minister to compel him to pay the sums due,” he said.