Security guard sacked from US embassy to ask if foreign missions immune to local law

US embassy in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A former security guard who says he was dismissed from employment at the US embassy here will write to the human resources minister to clarify whether foreign missions are immune to local laws.

The man’s lawyer, Ragunath Kesavan, said this is to ensure that Malaysian employees get justice when they file action against employers who are from foreign states, whether in court or in a tribunal.

“I will be writing to the minister (M Kula Segaran) to get an answer on whether foreign missions are shielded from action,” he told FMT.

Ragunath, a former Malaysian Bar president, was responding to the decision by Industrial Court chairman Gulam Muhiaddeen Abdul Aziz to adjourn proceedings to June 17.

This came after the US embassy claimed that the court notice as well as the service to the embassy were defective.

Ragunath’s legal firm is appearing for L Subramaniam, who was sacked 11 years ago. Kula Segaran only referred the case to the court last year.

Subramaniam, who served the embassy for 21 years, is seeking reinstatement.

The embassy, represented by Amerdeep Singh, said last Friday that under Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the notice cannot be served directly to the embassy but must go through diplomatic channels.

Amerdeep also said his client must be given 60 days to respond.

According to him, the embassy also claims that the notice must be directed to the US government.

Gulam instructed Subramaniam to respond to these objections on June 17.

PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan, who helped Subramaniam file the case, said the embassy’s refusal to submit to local jurisdiction only revealed its arrogance.

He said it also showed the extent to which the US government would fight a dismissal case against a guard, which he claimed had been done without due process.

“They dismissed the employee without any explanation, show-cause or domestic inquiry. Now, they come to court and say the authorities did not serve them a proper notice.”

Arutchelvan said a High Court here had ruled in 2016 that embassies and high commissions are not above Malaysian laws.

“It ruled that the Australian high commission is not protected under the Vienna Convention 1966 as the law only applies to ‘diplomatic agents’ such as the high commissioner himself,” he said.

He said the court had also rejected the argument that the Australian high commission is protected under the International Organisation (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1992.