By Hidir Reduan | New Straits Times
Embassies and High Commissions are not above Malaysian labour laws.
This is the effect of a High Court ruling today that allowed a former female office manager to quash the Director-General of Industrial Relations’ (DGIR) refusal to entertain her representation against termination of employment with the Australian High Commission.
Lawyer Edmund Bon, speaking after the ruling that favoured his client Chu Siew Mei @ Karen, said judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad found that there was no merit in the DGIR’s contention that it had no power to deal with her representation.
In a letter, dated Feb 5, 2014, the Industrial Relations Department had informed Chu, 55, that it had no jurisdiction in the matter on grounds that the Australian High Commission was protected by diplomatic immunity.
The letter stated that the immunity was courtesy of the Articles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 under the Diplomatic Privileges (Vienna Convention) Act 1966.
Bon said this was the first time the court had decided on the issue which affects all Malaysians employed by foreign missions.
According to Chu’s co-counsel Tan Poh Yee, the court had ruled that the Australian High Commission is not protected under the 1966 Act as that law only applies to “diplomatic agents” such as the person of High Commissioner himself.
Tan said that the court also did not accept the DGIR’s argument that the Australian High Commission is protected under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1992.
She said the court held that the Australian High Commission could only enjoy the immunity under the 1992 Act if the Foreign Minister declared such High Commission to enjoy the immunity provided by that law.
Chiming in, Bon said the court allowed Chu’s judicial review and ordered the DGIR to bear RM4,000 cost.
Bon said the DGIR now must arrange a conciliation meeting between Chu and the Australian High Commission to attempt amicable settlement over the employment-termination dispute.