KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) disciplinary committee decided to sack a manager six years ago because of her “severe misconduct” after involving herself in political activities, a witness told the High Court today.
BNM deputy governor Marzunisham Omar said Y Kohila, 48, was found to have breached BNM’s 2012 code of ethics.
“The code is clear on the bank’s position against the involvement of staff in political activities,” said Marzunisham, a member of BNM’s disciplinary committee, in his witness statement.
The BNM panel had found Kohila guilty on three counts of misconduct after a domestic inquiry in May and June 2017.
She is said to have canvassed support for Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and its officers in the 13th general election by drafting and publishing two press statements in the “Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit)” website on April 12, 2013.
On July 19, 2017, the committee convened to determine the punishment to be imposed on Kohila, who is now a practising lawyer.
“The committee is required to determine the appropriate punishment to be meted out to an employee who has been found guilty by the domestic inquiry panel,” Marzunisham said at the hearing of Kohila’s suit for unlawful dismissal against BNM.
Kohila, who filed the suit in 2018, is seeking reinstatement, damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.
Kohila, who joined the central bank in 2005, is also said to have canvassed support for S Arutchelvan, then secretary-general of PSM, to contest the Semenyih state assembly seat in Selangor on April 17, 2013.
Marzunisham said Kohila conducted herself in a manner not befitting her status as an employee of BNM by participating in a public rally on May 1, 2016, and wearing an anti-GST shirt.
He also said that on May 29, 2012, Kohila had been issued a stern warning and had her salary reduced by RM500, in addition to not receiving a bonus for 2011, for a similar “act of misconduct”.
Kohila, who was the manager of BNM’s Museum, Art Gallery and Knowledge Management Centre, had then participated in a 2011 Bersih rally for electoral reform.
Marzunisham said despite this punishment, Kohila committed a similar “misconduct” in defiance of the warning in 2013.
“The committee treated this seriously when determining the punishment of misconduct,” he said.
Cross-examined by lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, the witness said the committee did not meet Kohila before sacking her.
Marzunisham said BNM’s domestic inquiry panel had prepared a report that included Kohila’s mitigation.
Ambiga: Was it your concern that the plaintiff was associated with PSM?
Marzunisham: Yes. Our concern was that she was involved with a political party.
Ambiga: Would you agree there is no prohibition in the code (BNM’s code of ethics) for a staff member to be linked to a political party?
Marzunisham also said the committee was satisfied with the findings of the domestic inquiry panel that Kohila was guilty of misconduct.
Ambiga also asked Marzunisham whether it was a cause for concern that BNM only acted against Kohila four years after the first two alleged acts of misconduct took place.
To this, the witness said the bank acted after it was informed of the matter in 2016.
BNM, represented by Steven Thiru and Janice Leo, closed their case after calling four witnesses.
Justice Ahmad Bache will hear oral submissions on Dec 13 and will deliver his decision on Dec 22.