State Govt must respect the rule of law: Yong
Published on: Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Kota Kinabalu: FORMER Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee urged Datuk Amarjit Singh to step down as Sabah Water Department Director following Wednesday’s court judgement declaring his appointment illegal.

“I call on the government to uphold the rule of law and respect the judgement of the KK High Court today.

“I warn the Government not to think of ‘regularising the illegal’ by repeating other illegal methods to retain a political party member as Director of the Water Department. The Sabah public service has enough qualified officers to helm the Water Department. 

“Please do not sacrifice the public service just because of a political party member,” he said, referring to his membership of the ruling Parti Warisan Sabah.

The High Court here ruled that his appointment by the State Government was in contravention of Section 3 of the Water Supply Enactment 2003.

“This is a clear and definite law contained in the State Enactment that the Government has no excuse to be ignorant of,” Yong said in a statement Wednesday.

“Although the court stopped short of quashing all the actions of the Director from the time of his illegal appointment on 10th August 2018, the court declaration that the appointment of the Water Department Director is in contravention of the Water Supply Enactment 2003 is effective as of today, Oct 9. 

“Therefore, the only proper and legal thing for the purported Director is to leave his office and refrain from giving instructions to any officers or staff at the Water Department. 

“Any further actions by him or officers and staff acting under his instructions could potentially be breaking the law.”

Amarjit’s appointment illegal

Judge Ravinthran N. Paramaguru had delivered the decision in his chambers for the lawsuit filed by Yong and Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung on March 19 of this year.  

The plaintiffs named Amarjit and the State Government as the first and second defendants, respectively.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Central Youth Movement leader Sim Fui queried whether the cancellation of plumbing licences for contractors during Amarjit’s tenure as Director  would be considered legal following the High Court’s declaration that the latter’s appointment to the post had contravened Section 3 of the Water Supply Enactment 2003.

He said Amarjit has made drastic decisions upon being appointed State Water Department Director, particularly in the non-renewal of plumbing licences that caused over 3,000 contractors to lose their jobs.

These include the abrupt cancellation of two crucial water supply projects in Tawau and Lahad Datu as well as the termination of concession agreement of six firms operating water treatment plants.

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

“The department should clarify whether the decisions made by Amarjit during his tenure is legal”. Sim said the High Court’s decision that Amarjit’s appointment had contravened the Water Supply Enactment 2003.

He hoped that the State Government would appoint a qualified, independent professional from the State civil service to helm the State Water Department.

On March 19, Yong sought a court declaration that the appointment of Amarjit in August last year was unlawful.

Yong and Tawau businessman Pang Thou Chung said the appointment had contravened the Sabah Water Supply Enactment 2003. They stated in their suit that the enactment has stipulated that the State Water Department’s director should be appointed from among members of the state public service.

They claimed that Amarjit had never been a member of the state civil service and had never undergone proficiency training, competency assessments, professional development and government examinations as required to be appointed to the post.



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