Ex-CM challenges appointment of Sabah Water Dept director

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee (third from left) and Pang Thou Chung (fourth from left) and their lawyers and associates after filing their suit at the Kota Kinabalu High Court today.

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee is seeking a court declaration that the appointment of Sabah Water Department director Amarjit Singh eight months ago is unlawful.

In a suit filed at the Kota Kinabalu High Court Registry today, Yong and Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung contended the appointment contravened the Sabah Water Supply Enactment 2003.

They sought a declaration that Section 3 of the enactment, which spelled out that only members of the public service were qualified for senior posts, was mandatory.

Yong and Pang claimed that Amarjit had never been a member of the state civil service.

They said he had never undergone proficiency training and assessments, professional development and government examinations required for someone to be appointed to such a senior post.

They contended that he was appointed merely because he was a member and office-bearer of the ruling Warisan.

Yong and Pang claimed in their suit that Amarjit’s actions since his appointment on Aug 10 last year had jeopardised water supply in Sabah.

They cited the abrupt cancellation of two crucial water supply projects in Tawau and Lahad Datu the day Amarjit was appointed.

They also claimed that Amarjit was unfit for the post as he had been among those investigated for alleged corruption in connection with a water treatment plant project in Semporna district.

They claimed that his incompetence had resulted in several “questionable” actions by the water department.

Amarjit cancelled the much-needed Phase III of the Tawau Water Supply Scheme costing some RM450 million on the day of his appointment, they contended.

The serious implications of the cancellation were reflected by Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew’s statement on Feb 21 that there had been frequent complaints from Tawau folk on water supply shortage in the district.

The plaintiffs also claimed in their suit that Amarjit’s move in terminating the concession agreement of six firms operating water treatment plants was another consequence of his incompetence.

They said the contract termination had exposed the Sabah government to lawsuits to a tune of RM409.8 million.

In addition, they claimed that Amarjit’s move to introduce written competency tests for the licensing of pipe fitters was “gross injustice” and had reduced the number of those qualified from 2,123 to just 104.