Thursday, November 15, 2012

Council chief’s transfer ‘illegal’, claim Selayang councillors

Council chief’s transfer ‘illegal’, claim Selayang councillors

November 15, 2012
Malaysian Insider 
SELAYANG, Nov 15 – Selayang councillors today objected to the sudden transfer of their council president Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala to another government agency, claiming the Public Service Department (PSD) had acted illegally in ordering the move.

At a press conference here, a councillor with the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) Abdul Majid Hasan said the PSD had violated the Local Government Act 1976 by ignoring the state’s jurisdiction in the matter.

“It contravenes Section 10 of the Act, which clearly gives absolute power to the state government to appoint the president of a local council,” he said.

Abdul Majid added that possible legal action could be taken to declare the PSD’s directive null and void.
Zainal Abidin (picture) was given a surprise 24-hour transfer notice to the Institute of Public Administration (INTAN) yesterday, a move that is believed to be connected with a controversial 29-storey condomininum project near Batu Caves.

The transfer notice, which was issued by the Deputy Director of the Public Service Department (PSD) and received by MPS via email early yesterday morning, did not state in detail Zainal Abidin’s new position, but only ordered him to report to INTAN immediately.

Lee Khai Loon, an MPS Councillor confirmed the matter when contacted by The Malaysian Insider yesterday, but he also said he has not received the full details of the sudden transfer.

He expressed surprise at the move, as there remains many unresolved matters including the budget preparation and discussion over the 29-storey condominium at the Batu Caves area.

“Maybe it is connected to the matter,” Lee suggested, without dismissing the possibility of a link between the sudden transfer and the condominium project in the Batu Caves area.

At today’s press conference, a total of 14 MPS councillors recorded their objection to Zainal Abidin’s transfer and suspicion that the move was linked to the ongoing dispute between Selangor and the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government over the Batu Caves condominium project.

Councillor A. Rahim Ahmad Kasdi said the harried decision by the PSD clearly showed a hidden motive behind the sudden transfer.

“This surprise notice also begs several questions, particularly regarding the MPS’ exposes on the controversial condominium project.

“It also indirectly made our former council president into a victim of circumstances,” he told the press conference at the MPS office here.

A. Rahim also warned that the latest development could further thwart the state’s plans to resolve the row quickly.

Selangor has ordered a temporary halt to the construction of the condominium near Batu Caves pending the findings of an independent state-level task force to be set up soon, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said on October 30.

In a press statement yesterday, Khalid announced the state executive council’s decision to appoint former Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief Datuk N. Sadasivan to lead taskforce.
But when contacted this morning, Sadasivan told The Malaysian Insider that he has decided to decline the offer. He did not offer a reason.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his speech at MIC’s Deepavali open house at Batu Caves, had promised to stop the project should Barisan Nasional (BN) successfully recapture Selangor in the next polls.

He had also said the BN government would apply to make Batu Caves a UNESCO World Heritage site after Malaysia’s term as a member of the World Heritage Commission ends in 2015.
The 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has turned into a political crisis as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

About 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction on October 26, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, but MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) have in recent weeks pressured the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration into calling a halt to the project amid a battle for Indian votes.

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