Ex-Penang Hill GM’s RM417,000 unlawful termination award upheld

The Court of Appeal has affirmed a High Court ruling that Khoo Teng Cheok was wrongfully removed before the expiry of his three-year employment contract.

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has affirmed an award of RM417,000 in compensation handed down in favour of a former general manager of the Penang Hill Corporation for unlawfully terminating his three-year employment contract prior to its expiry.

A three-member bench chaired by Justice Supang Lian said the High Court judge had made the correct finding in respect of Clause 8.4 of Khoo Teng Cheok’s service contract, namely that it was ultra vires Section 14(2) of the Penang Hill Enactment 2009.

“In view of the above, the appeal is dismissed with costs of RM15,000,” said Supang, who sat with Justices Azimah Omar and Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh.

Justice Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah, then a High Court judge, had ruled that Khoo’s termination under Clause 8.4 was wrong.

The judge had agreed with Khoo’s lawyers that only the state authorities, and not the corporation, had the power to revoke his appointment.

Therefore, Khoo was entitled to his salary and allowances for the remainder of his contractual term, the High Court ruled.

The Court of Appeal today agreed with the lower court’s decision but varied the compensation from RM417,342.44 to RM417,916.54 to correct a computation error by the High Court.

Khoo, now 70, was given a three-year contract from Feb 20, 2014, but was removed from office in January 2016.

He filed an originating summons in 2020 seeking a declaration that the termination was unlawful and said he was entitled to wages and allowances for the remaining period.

The corporation was set up in 2009 with the primary objective of managing the development of Penang Hill and its funicular (cable railway) system.

Lawyers V Satchitanandan and Komal Vijay Seth appeared for Khoo, while Pravin Kaur Jessy appeared for the corporation.


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