State secretary: Sabah Water Department boss, deputy suspended from duty

An array of cash both ringgit and foreign currency, gold jewellery, land titles and luxury brand watches and handbags were seized from two Sabah high ranking state agency officials in a graft investigation. ― Picture by Julia Chan
An array of cash both ringgit and foreign currency, gold jewellery, land titles and luxury brand watches and handbags were seized from two Sabah high ranking state agency officials in a graft investigation. ― Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 17 — The director and deputy director of the Sabah Water Department (SWD) have been suspended from duty since the date of their arrests two weeks ago, State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman confirmed today following confusion over the duo’s employment status.

Sukarti also said the notices of suspension have been issued by the state Public Service Commission to both officials who are being investigated by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission for graft offenses involving RM3.3 billion in federal projects.

“The suspension for the director and deputy director is effective as of October 5th and 4th of this year respectively, the dates when the suspects were arrested,” he said in a statement issued through the Chief Minister’s press and publication office.

Sukarti said that under the suspension, both men are barred from entering the SWD head office or the premises of any other Water Department offices in Sabah.

“The suspects are also not allowed to leave the state during this period of the investigation,” he added.

Lawyer PJ Pereira who represents the SWD director was reported earlier saying his client has yet to receive a suspension notice and would resume work today.

Pereira later told Malay Mail Online that his client was “resting”. Staff at SWD disclosed that their boss did not come into the office today.

Lawyers for both director and deputy director denied knowledge of any suspensions orders.

The director was released from being detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision (MACC) on a RM500,000 bond while his deputy, along with two other suspects, were released today, also on bail and two local sureties.

A fifth suspect — a technical and engineering adviser to the Sabah Finance Ministry — is still under MACC custody from his arrest last week. His court remand expires on Wednesday.

The four were arrested last October 4 for suspected involvement in corruption offences including alleged kickbacks and money laundering of funds from RM3.3 billion in federal projects.

Investigators have seized over RM190 million in cash, valuables and property from the suspects, and questioned nearly 80 people as part of the case.

Sabah MACC director Datuk Shaharom Nizam Abdul Manap said that it was up to the discretion of the department or state agencies to decide on the type of action to be taken against those under investigation, but have yet to be charged.

He said it was appropriate for the authorities to put them on “break or leave” while investigations are ongoing.

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