Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ex-convicts among councillors?

Jul 3, 2008 By Nuradzimmah Daim, Azira Shaharuddin and Neville Spykerman


The Selangor government is going ahead with the appointment of Ampang Jaya councillors on Tuesday despite the possibility of three of them having criminal backgrounds.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is determined to proceed with their appointment along with 21 others with a promise to resolve the matter "later".

This may mean sacking them at some time in the future if investigations prove their ineligibility for appointment.

"If, for whatever reason, their appointments are against any policy, we will de-list them.

"I hope this setback will not hamper us from going ahead with the appointment of the councillors," said the state leader already embroiled in a controversy surrounding allegations of abuse of power involving his Parti Keadilan Rakyat government.

At least three candidates, already issued appointment letters as councillors, are being scrutinised following claims by an Ampang resident that two had police records for robbery and involvement with the underworld.

Another is alleged to have served time under preventive laws.

Checks with the police confirmed that at least one had a criminal record.

Caught completely off-guard when told about the allegations at a press conference after the weekly state executive council meeting yesterday, a fuming Abdul Khalid said he would act against them at a later date "if for whatever reason their appointments are against any policy".

Abdul Khalid said the new councillors would be re-assessed after their appointments.

Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Datuk Mohammad Yacob also expressed shock over the allegation, saying he was unaware of the situation.

"Everything was going as planned with the councillors receiving their letters of appointment. We are just following the directive of the state government," he said, declining to elaborate.

The incident has cast more doubts on the credibility of the Selangor government after Abdul Khalid admitted that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had determined that his office had solicited donations for the celebration of Pakatan Rakyat's 100 days in office.

Abdul Khalid's office came under scrutiny recently after it was reported that letters bearing the official letterhead of the office of the menteri besar were used to solicit donations for the celebrations.

The menteri besar said the Selangor ACA director had briefed him on Tuesday, saying there was basis to the allegations.

"The incident happened without my knowledge and involved the officer who was initially suspended but later resigned," he said, referring to his former aide, Yahya Sahri.

Abdul Khalid said this was the second case involving Yah-ya, who was earlier implicated for alleged abuse of power.

"The misuse of the office of the menteri besar cannot be tolerated by Pakatan Rakyat, which upholds corporate governance."

Abdul Khalid said auditors from Ernst and Young had been appointed to trace money which may have been donated, with the money being returned if the allegations were true.

"We also urge companies which have made contributions to come forward," he said, adding that officers from state-linked companies would also be called to provide information.

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