Sabah Water chief’s appointment unlawful, court rules

Amarjit Singh (right) signing his appointment letter as the Sabah Water Department director last year.

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu High Court today declared the appointment of a non-civil servant as director of the Sabah Water Department as unlawful.

It said the appointment of Amarjit Singh contravened Section 3 of the Water Supply Enactment 2003 which states that senior posts must only be filled by members of the public service.

In their suit filed in March to seek a court declaration on Amarjit’s status, former chief minister Yong Teck Lee and businessman Pang Thou Chung said Amarjit had never been a member of the state civil service or undergone proficiency training, competency assessments, professional development and government examinations, which are requirements for the senior post.

They said Amarjit was appointed due to his position in Warisan, the party leading the Sabah ruling coalition.

Amarjit is the secretary of the Putatan Warisan division.

He was detained in 2017 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) together with party president Shafie Apdal, now the chief minister.

He was freed on RM15,000 bail after spending six days in MACC custody.

When contacted, Yong said he would wait for the next course of action by the state government, adding that the state attorney-general’s chambers had not asked for a stay of the ruling.

“Amarjit should not turn up for work until the issue is settled,” he told FMT.

Amarjit was appointed to the post in August last year, some two months after Warisan took over the Sabah state government.

Since taking office, he has cancelled two crucial water supply projects in Tawau and Lahad Datu in Sabah’s east coast.

The water department also terminated several water concessionaires, resulting in massive lawsuits against the state government.

Amarjit was recently awarded the Datuk title in conjunction with the 66th birthday of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri.