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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ex-CM to challenge ‘re-appointment’ of Sabah Water Dept director

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee has instructed his lawyers to file a fresh lawsuit to challenge what he called the re-appointment of Amarjit Singh as the Sabah Water Department director.
Yong said he and another person had decided to seek a judicial review of Amarjit’s “illegal re-appointment”. The review was sought on grounds of public interest and to ensure public accountability of the government, he said.
He said the Sabah government had appointed Amarjit as “technical adviser” attached to the state secretary’s office on Oct 30 last year, but backdated it to Oct 11, a Friday. “Three days later, on the following Monday (Oct 14), he was transferred to the Water Department as its director,” Yong said.
“This ugly exercise bears all the hallmarks of an attempt to circumvent the Sabah Water Supply Enactment 2003 and to frustrate the High Court’s judgement on Oct 9, 2019 that had declared as illegal Amarjit’s previous appointment as director,” Yong said in a statement today.
Amarjit Singh.
He added the appointment exercise had subverted the Sabah public service and the good governance of the state. “To make matters worse, the entire exercise to appoint Amarjit as director of a government department has been clouded in secrecy.”
On Oct 9 last year, the High Court ruled that Amarjit’s appointment as the department’s chief contravened Section 3 of Sabah’s Water Supply Enactment 2003, which states that senior posts can only be filled by civil servants.
Amarjit, who never served in the civil sector before, was appointed to the post in August 2018, some two months after Warisan took over the Sabah state government.
The Sabah government subsequently filed an appeal against the ruling, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong who added that Section 3(2) of the law might not apply to Amarjit.
Yong had initially filed the suit, together with Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung in March last year, claiming Amarjit’s appointment was in violation of the law and that he was appointed due to his position in Warisan, the dominant party in the ruling coalition in Sabah.
Amarjit is Putatan Warisan division secretary.
However, despite the ruling, Amarjit had continued to work as director, with Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony saying that although the court had ruled the appointment as unlawful, it never ordered Amarjit to take leave or not to enter the office.
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had also said Amarjit’s appointment as the Water Department director may have contravened state laws but the court did not rule his position as null and void. - FMT

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