KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Ports Authority (SPA) has clarified that it had never promised to give the Retirement Benefit Scheme (RBS) to its 164 pensioners.
SPA chairman, Datuk Kadzim Yahya said that the matter has been settled in court in 2010, hence the company had not made a ‘U-turn’ as claimed by Sandakan Member of Parliament, Stephen Wong Tien Fatt.
According to him, Wong has made numerous press statements including claiming that SPA would pay pension arrears to the said pensioners.
Speaking to the New Sabah Times at his office yesterday, Kadzim said that SPA had contributed 20 percent of its employees’ salary to RBSfrom 1969 to 1981.
However, the RBS was discontinued on March 1, 1981 after being instructed by Public Services Department (Pension Division).
The ex-employees opted to have the insurance policy with Great Eastern (RBS) converted into a ‘paid-up’ policy with a reduced sum assured.
“Majority of them opted for Option A which is full pension, so their RBS proceeds were forwarded in full to the Pension Department for the payment of their monthly pensions.
“Only a few of them opted for Option B (reduce pension upon retirement), and all of them have been paid their RBS proceeds,” he said.
The issue surfaced after the privatisation of Sabah Ports in 2004 when 165 of SPA’s pensioners filed a lawsuit against the company in three batches, each in 2005, 2006, and 2009.
The case was heard in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in Kota Kinabalu in 2010 where the court delivered its judgement on March 22, in the same year, dismissing the claims by the plaintiffs and required them to pay the legal costs to SPA.
“It was proven in court that 157 of the ex-employees had opted for full pension and have been receiving their monthly pensions from the Pension Department, while the remaining eight who opted for reduce pension upon retirement had been paid their RBS proceeds.
“SPA has forwarded all the RBS proceeds to the Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen / Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) on March 27, 2006 and December 3, 2012 following the written instruction given by the Accountant General Office through a letter to SPA dated March 31, 2005 which was signed by KWAP director.
“Up to now, all proceeds of RBS from SPA remain intact in KWAP for the payment of monthly pension to all ex-employees in the RBS list as instructed and decided by the government through the Ministry of Finance following a meeting on May 11, 2017, and the final decision made by the Minister of Finance 2 office on June 20, 2017.
“The Ministry of Finance’s decision has been addressed in the ‘Sesi Kamar Khas Parlimen Ketiga Belas Penggal Kelima Mesyuarat Ketiga’ on November 20, 2017 in replying to the question raised by the Sandakan MP,” he said.
Therefore, Kadzim said that SPA considers all matters pertaining to the RBS are settled and fully closed.
He described the allegation that the government still owes the ex-SPA employees any money is a blatant lie. For Wong to claim as such without checking the facts he was fed with, he said, is very irresponsible.
“By continuing to harp on these forgone issues, Wong is exposing himself to an act of contempt of court as he is ridiculing a decision of the High Court,” he added.\
By ERIC BAGANG
#New Sabah Times