PENAMPANG: A Sabah opposition leader today said it is wrong to appoint a Sarawakian as president of the Sandakan Municipal Council (MPS) as many locals are qualified for the job.
Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan said this was another mistake by the state government.
“It is wrong for them to do that,” he told reporters after attending the Sabah Day celebration here today.
Kitingan said the new MPS president, Hii Chang Lik, is a “timber man” and never served in the civil service.
Hence, he said, it is ludicrous that the businessman is suddenly charged with running the municipal council of the second most important city in Sabah.
“You can imagine what kind of municipal council it is going to be. When somebody from the top appoints you to a post, it is natural that you will be beholden to that person.
“In this case, this individual will listen more to the directives of the housing and local government ministry instead of the grassroots, namely the councillors,” he said.
Instead of filling the post with a political appointee, Kitingan suggested the president of the council should be elected by the councillors instead.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee, however, preferred to give the state government the chance to explain the rationale behind the appointment.
“I would consider Hii to be a Sabahan of Sarawak origin. I know there have been comments that he is not a Sabahan.
“But he has been in Sabah for many years, worked here, has business here, so I would consider him a Sabahan,” he told reporters.
However, Yong, who is also a former chief minister, said while Hii’s origin should not pose too much of a problem, the government still has to explain why the businessman is qualified for the job.
“It is not so much about where he was born. There are many people like him in Sabah,” he said.
On the issue of the federal government’s decision to appoint Petron as one of the fuel providers for government vehicles, Kitingan said he found it amusing as it was one of the most blatant acts of cronyism at work.
He pointed out that the politicians who are now part of the government used to complain about such awards of tenders when they were in the opposition.
“Now they are doing the same thing. If they continue to do this, then what is the difference between the previous government and the current one?
“In essence, only the faces changed but the system and mentality are still the same. Who owns Petron? Who is the prime minister now? You know the answer,” he said.
Mirzan Mahathir is among the board members of the Philippines-based Petron Corporation.
Petron Corporation had said in 2013 that Mirzan did not have any shares or a role in its Malaysian operations. However, it said he was elected as a director of Petron Corporation on Aug 13, 2010 and held 1,000 shares at that time.