Monday, May 3rd 2010 - 03:57 UTC

Malaysia Air Force Officers Sue Government Over Missing Jet Engines Found in Uruguay

Five former Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) officers, including a brigadier-general, are suing the Armed Forces Council for wrongful dismissal. They are claiming that they had been wrongfully dismissed after an inquiry held over the two missing RMAF F5E fighter jet engines that were later located in a Uruguayan warehouse, apparently the property of an Argentine company.

The two missing fighter engines are worth millions of US dollars

The five former Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) officers are Brig-Jen Datuk Abdul Hadi Abdul Khatab, 57, Mejar Rusli Ibrahim, 48, Kolonel Mohamad Sani Sumarnak, 55, Mejar Noor Zelan Draman, 45, and Leftenan Kolonel Mohamed Ariff Mohd Daud, 47. They filed separate civil suits through their lawyer Zalil Mohd Mess.

They named the council, Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin and the Malaysia Government as defendants in the civil action. In their originating summons, they claimed that Jen Azizan or the council in a letter dated Nov 5, 2007, directed each of them to explain allegations of misconduct and negligence.

Each plaintiff said they subsequently replied and denied the allegations. However, they said they were “forced to retire” without explanations over the alleged misconduct, adding that they had a valid employment contract. The five also said they were embarrassed by the whole affair as it implied that they had cheated the Government, abetted with certain contractors to dupe the Government and that they had caused the Government to suffer losses due to their negligence.

Among others, they are seeking a declaration that the motion initiated by Jen Azizan to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for their retirement was invalid. They also want a declaration that they have rights for their salary, allowances and other benefits. The five are seeking between RM 500,000 and RM 5mil in general damages, interests, costs and further relief deemed fit by the court.

Last week the High Courts of Malaysia deputy registrar Fatimah Rubi’ah Ali ordered the parties to file written submissions by May 13 over an application by the defendants to strike out the civil action. Fatimah set the application to be heard on May 21 before High Court Judicial Commissioner Zabariah Mohd Yusof. In the application to strike out the suit, the defendants urged the court to use its jurisdiction to set aside the originating summons on grounds that the civil action was an abuse of the court process.

Speaking to reporters, Zalil said there was another similar matter filed by a sixth RMAF officer Mejar Mohd Fadzil Arshad pending hearing at the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) by way of judicial review. The five, who were from the RMAF logistics department, are asking for damages and not a reinstatement.

The missing RMAF F5E fighter jet engines were discovered missing from the Sungai Besi RMAF air base during routine maintenance service in 2007. Also missing were the engines’ maintenance and service records. They were later located in a warehouse in Uruguay.

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