Sabah Water boss fails to respond to suit on appointment

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee.

KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee revealed today the Sabah government and Water Department director had failed to reply to an affidavit served on them 22 days ago.

On March 19, Yong and a Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung sought a declaration that the appointment of Sabah Water Department director Amarjit Singh by the Sabah government in August 2018 was null and void as it 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.

Speaking to the media today, Yong claimed that legal action is necessary because this is a public interest case, and it reflects on the professionalism and competency of Sabah’s public service.

Yong said he had instructed his lawyers to give a time extension till April 15 for the defendants to file their affidavits.

“Government ministers and bureaucrats may wish to ignore the cries of water consumers and the suffering of the people. But the government cannot ignore a summons issued by a court of law.

“The government must come out and defend itself, and state its case in open court.

“Failure to do so would be another scary example of utter incompetence of this administration and a display of contempt for the rule of law.”

Yong said in his affidavit to support the legal action, he had included the dire consequences of having an unqualified, untrained and inexperienced person, who is also a politician, appointed as the director of an important government department.

Among others, he also claimed that on Amarjit’s first day of work as director, he had terminated the Tawau Water Dam Project, which was to provide water supply to the people of Tawau.

Being on the job for less than 24 hours, Yong said Amarjit had not only failed to go on a single site visit to Tawau and has little understanding of the water supply situation there.

He also failed to consult the Economic Planning Unit and other relevant departments before calling off the project.

“In the same reckless manner, Amarjit also terminated the Lahad Datu water supply project which could have helped solve 30-40% of the water shortage problem faced by people in the Lahad Datu district,” he said.