KOTA KINABALU: A new director will be named next week to head the state water department, replacing Amarjit Singh who has been transferred to the state Economic Planning Unit, according to Sabah infrastructure minister Peter Anthony.
“At the moment, an officer is taking over the duties of the director. A new director would be named next week,” Anthony said. “The government wants an experienced director, and one who would be able to guarantee the quality of the water works services.”
Amarjit was appointed to the water department after the Warisan-led ruling coalition took power in Sabah in 2018. In October last year, the High Court ruled that his appointment had been illegally made. The state government has filed an appeal against the ruling.
Anthony denied that Amarjit’s two-year contract had been shortened and said the director had merely been transferred, which Anthony said was normal procedure for civil servants.
Pressed further on whether Amarjit’s contract had been ended prematurely, Anthony said that only Amarjit would be able to answer such questions.
He said Amarjit’s expertise could be needed by the state EPU.
Amarjit’s position had been questioned by Yong Teck Lee, president of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), who said the state government was acting suspiciously as Amarjit had now been made a technical adviser to the EPU.
He accused the state government of a lack of transparency on the water department position.
However, Anthony said he would not discuss the matters raised by Yong, and said Yong’s resentment was his own problem.
Anthony said the department is a sensitive and important state agency and the new director could resolve the problem of water shortages in remote areas, where many villages still depend on gravity-feed systems.
“Usually it is the federal rural development ministry which would resolve this problem. But I think it is time for the state to take part in ending this problem, either by improving the existing system or installing water pipes,” he said.
Yong said said the state government’s actions could have an impact on an application for a judicial review that he has filed with the courts.
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