Posted: 05 Apr 2012 03:47 AM PDT
TR Eri ak Ajok is the Tuai Rumah of Kampung Emplas situated at Simunjan, Sarawak and taking care of a longhouse consisting of about 35 pintus. Encik Eri Ak Ajok was chosen by the villagers of Kampung Emplas as the Tuai Rumah since 1961 after he succeeded from his father, TR Ajok ak Mambu and was officially appointed by the Resident of the First Division on the 14.04.1982.
On 30.06.2011, TR Eri was given two letters written by the District Officer of Simunjan and the Director of Human Resource Management Division of the Chief Minister's Department by a resident from his longhouse, Berandah anak Leben informing the Plaintiff that he was terminated as a Tuai Rumah since 01.04.2011. The Plaintiff was not given any reason whatsoever as to his termination of service as Tuai Rumah despite the Tuai Rumah still having the support of 20 pintus that he is to continue as the Tuai Rumah.
The Tuai Rumah courageously against all odds filed this application for judicial review and the learned High Court Judge, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang today allowed the Tuai Rumah application and gave declaration that the letters of Termination of Service as a Tuai Rumah by the 1st and 2nd Defendant are unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect and therefore the decision of the District Officer to terminate the service of the Tuai Rumah is effectively quashed.
In delivering her judgment, Datuk Rhodzariah stated that the Circular Memorandum dated 2.10.1980 proves that the applicant's appointment as a Tuai Rumah is contractual and is clearly stated to be at the pleasure of the State Government. However, the learned Judge observed that it cannot be denied that in the days of old, prior to this Circular, a Tuai Rumah was appointed by way of 'adat' or tradition based on the support the appointee enjoyed from the majority of the household in the longhouse, such consideration is no longer the determining factor in the post Circular period. The terms and conditions in the Cirucular therefore bind the Tuai Rumah and the prerogative of the appointment lies solely with the State Government even though there is a probability that the Tuai Rumah still enjoys the support and confidence of the majority of the households in his longhouse.
However, the learned Judge found that the Tuai Rumah was only informed of his termination 2 ½ months after the termination took effect and he was paid the honorarium 4 ½ months later and therefore the inordinate delay in conveying the decision on the termination is in complete defiance of reason and logic.
The learned Judge opined that the decision to terminate the Tuai Rumah must logically and of necessity be communicated to a Tuai Rumah before the effective date of termination or at the very least, on the very day of the termination itself and ideally, the honorarium be paid at the same time as when the decision is communicated.
The learned Judge also stated that: "What is the use and where lies the logic of telling a man that he is no longer the anointed leader long after his appointment has been revoked? It is not only unfair to the Tuai Rumah but to the community he serves for there are ramifications following such a delay. A Tuai Rumah in that same position the applicant would and could have happily performed his official duties as Tuai Rumah such as the common act of certifying or verifying documents for his people when in fact he was no longer holding the post as one. Therefore, the act of notifying him of the termination only so many months after the effective date, even if one were to excuse the delay in payment of the honorarium has rendered the termination bad in law and the letter of termination null and void.
The learned Judge ordered that the Tuai Rumah be paid the arreaers of his honorarium from April 2011 until to date and that the termination is illegal, null and void and of no legal effect.
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