Amarjit Singh picked as Sabah Water Dept director lawfully, says state minister

Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony with participants of World Water Day run in Penampang today. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony is unperturbed by a lawsuit challenging the appointment of the state Water Department director, saying all was done according to the law.

He said his ministry had checked with various institutions before appointing Amarjit Singh to head the department.

“Prior to the appointment, we referred the matter to the state attorney-general, Public Service Department and a few other agencies.

“We understand (the appointment issue) and we cannot stop any protest or speculation among the public,” he told reporters after launching a run in conjunction with the World Water Day in Penampang today.

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee and Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung challenged Amarjit’s appointment in the Kota Kinabalu High Court last Tuesday.

Both claimed the appointment was unlawful under the Sabah Water Supply Enactment 2003, which said it was mandatory for senior positions to be held by members of the public service. The duo claimed Amarjit had never been a member of the state civil service.

Anthony believed the suit was filed in relation to the present water shortage in Sabah.

“But we are also humans. Rain comes from God… when there is no rain that means no water.

“With the help of the public, we can improve water production in Sabah,” he said.

Papar dam construction

Meanwhile, Anthony expects construction of the RM2 billion Papar Dam to start next year.

He said the dam is at the design and surveying phase now, adding this phase will be completed in six months.

“This will go a long way towards supplying ample water to the growing population in the state capital and Penampang.

“Although we have the Babagon dam and water plants in Tuaran and Beaufort, those are still inadequate.

“If the Papar dam is not built, then the water problem will persist.

“The location has been finalised. But in any case, we are waiting for the environmental impact assessment report first,” he said.

Anthony said the Ulu Padas Dam project would also start soon, adding that once it was completed, it will supply water to residents in Sabah’s interior areas as well southwestern districts such as Beaufort and Sipitang.

Meanwhile, he said six plants in Tawau and Semporna are at the critical level now due to the current drought season.

“We hope that rain will fall soon. We are unable to pump water in the Tawau plant now (because of the water level). We may consider sending water to affected areas,” he said.

Anthony is also holding off cloud seeding for the moment as heavy rain was reported in Keningau, Penampang and Papar yesterday.