M’sian Teacher Who Was Fired After Being Absent For 4 Years Due To Water Phobia Gets His Job Back

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has filed an appeal against the decision.
Phobias are more than just simple fears, where it eventually turns into intense and irrational anxieties that completely paralyses a person from carrying out their daily routine.

Such was the case for a teacher named Yahaya Wahi, who had such a deep fear of water that he did not turn up for work for close to four years and was subsequently fired.

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Requested to be transferred to Perak

NST reported that Yahaya had previously served as a teacher at a school in Selangor for 18 years before requesting to be transferred to Gerik, Perak.

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The reason was because he wanted to be closer to his wife, who was also a teacher, and his mother who lived in Kelantan.

Sk rps kemar, perak
Photo via Blogspot

Following the successful request, Yahaya accepted a teaching position at SK RPS Kemar on Dec 16, 2012.

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Failed to turn up for 4 years due to water phobia

However, when his first day of work arrived on April 3, 2013, Yahaya was nowhere to be seen at the school and continued to be missing in action until May 16, 2017.

It was later revealed that he didn’t appear for work due to his deep fear of water and realisation that he had to take a boat across a lake to get to the school.

His water phobia could be traced back to Yahaya’s childhood, where he himself nearly drowned and witnessed his elder brother drowning before his eyes.

A person drowning in the river
For illustration purposes only. Photo via Pexels

As such, he underwent treatment at a government hospital in Sungai Petani and was referred to the psychiatry department in 2015.

Fired from job

In 2019, the school principal took disciplinary action against Yahaya for failing to report for work throughout the four years. This was also when Yahaya disclosed his medical condition for the first time.

Despite Yahaya’s efforts to discuss his situation with the authorities and request for another transfer, it all went unheard and he was fired on August 9, 2019 and stopped receiving his salary starting August 6, 2019.

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Following his dismissal, Yahaya filed a judicial review at the Taiping High Court to overturn his firing and to be employed as a teacher again at schools that are reachable via land.

Man holding a box contained files and books
For illustration purposes only. Photo via Freepik

Judge calls dismissal ‘unjust’

In delivering his ruling in court today, Taiping High Court Judge K. Muniandy found Yahaya’s dismissal to be unjust and in violation of procedural fairness and allowed the judicial review application to go through.

He added that no one from the school had informed Yahaya of his right to appeal to a  Disciplinary Appeal Board or given him a reason for not doing so.

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Additionally, he also said that the school had “deprived students of a dedicated mathematics and science teacher” and that Yahaya had legit reasons for not coming for work.

Judge gavel
For illustration purposes only. Photo via Pexels

It is not a case of him not wanting to work, especially when he has an exemplary service record as a teacher. He could have refused the transfer immediately when he received it, but he soldiered on. However, he failed due to his phobia.

“It is quite clear that he was not faking it, but he genuinely faced a real problem, to which the respondents turned a blind eye,” he said.

AGC files appeal against decision

However, Yahaya’s journey to becoming a teacher once again has met another roadblock in the form of an appeal which was filed by Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

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His lawyer, E. Ernest Balasingam said the case is set to continue at the Court of Appeal on August 28, where  a hearing date will be fixed.


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