Council’s refusal to sign extension due to personal agenda – LDP

KOTA KINABALU: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) deputy president Datuk Chin Su Phin suspects that the Lahad Datu District Council’s (LDDC) refusal to sign the extension of lease agreement for the present food court operator at Jalan Dam is due to the personal agenda of a few individuals, despite Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Haji Noor’s orders to renew the lease.

The former senator said he had been monitoring the case for more than two years and had even met with Hajiji twice to gain an understanding of the situation.

“I believe this situation involves not only one person, but several individuals in LDDC who have resorted to unscrupulous tactics to fuel their own agenda.”

LDDC deputy chairman Kassim Sulaiman said that Chin should do his homework and get his facts right before issuing any statement about LDDC.

Kassim said Chin could not urge the government to sack the officers of LDDC for allegedly not following the ministry’s directives.

Chin said the food court operator was granted approval to lease the premises for 15 years since 2002, though the lease agreement had to be renewed every five years.

The operator and LDDC signed the first lease agreement in 2002 for a period of five years, which was subsequently renewed in 2008 for another three years till 2010.

On August 17, 2010, Chin said the council agreed to extend the lease for another 15 years on the condition that the operator upgraded the facilities, which the latter did.

Since the operator had invested in improving the facilities of the food court, Chin said the LDDC should give priority to the operator in leasing the premises at Jalan Dam.

He pointed out that the operator could not have recouped his cost of upgrading the premises if his lease tenure was terminated.

“Perhaps the government’s intention of requiring the operator to renew the lease every five years is to revise the conditions or rental. But the priority should be given to the existing operator.”

He said there were currently around 30 food stalls at the premises. A fire destroyed 15 stalls two years ago but the operator had forked out his own money to rebuild the damaged structure.

He added that the operator also paid monthly rental to LDDC on time.

Chin said the Ministry of Local Government and Housing had issued a letter dated March 13, 2017 stating its approval for LDDC to sign the extension of lease agreement, along with a letter of authorization from Hajiji under Section 37(2) of the Local Government Ordinance 1961 to instruct the chairman and secretary of LDDC to sign the contract in order to renew the lease.

“The contents of the letters are very clear cut.”

In spite of the ministry’s instructions, Chin said the LDDC had decided not to renew the food court operator’s contract agreement in a recent meeting on August 16 this year without stating any reason.

“There is no reason for LDDC not to extend the lease, unless the 15 years’ tenure is up.”

He claimed that the LDDC officers had abused their powers and completely disregarded the ministry’s orders.

Chin said the operator had lodged a report with the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on May 24, 2016 and October 13, 2016 respectively.

If LDDC still refuses to renew the lease, Chin believed that the operator would take legal action and file another report to MACC against the district council for abuse of power and corruption.

Chin said the government must not protect these officers.

“A news report stated that one out of 19 Malaysians is a civil servant. While not all government servants behave this way, what if 10 per cent of the officers possess such attitude? They will certainly tarnish Barisan Nasional’s (BN) image.”

He said the Ministry of Local Government and Housing should sack the officers who defied government directives and were unwilling to help the rakyat.

On a similar note, Chin also questioned LDDC on the reason the issuance of some trading licences which took only a few days but others took months.

In comparison, he pointed out that business operators could get their trading licence the next day from Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK), thanks to the effort by Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai to help the people and business community.

“I find that many district councils take weeks or even months just to renew trading licences.

“Everything is computerised now. The issuance of identification cards and passports only takes a day. Why does the issuance of trading licence take so long?”

Chin urged the MACC to probe problematic district councils.

“It is very difficult for us to collect evidence of power abuse. I am sure MACC will find evidence of power abuse and corrupt practices when the commission investigates and conducts surveillance on the district councils, if any.”

He also urged the Ministry of Local Government and Housing not to compromise on misbehaved officers.

“The ministry should sack officers who are found to have abused their powers and disobey directives.

“Keeping them in the government system will only cause damage to our country.”

Although the operator is a member of LDP, Chin said the district council officers should have served the rakyat irrespective of their political background.

“We must not allow such behaviour among government officers, who think they have so much power in their hands.

“Don’t forget your salary is paid by taxpayers.

“Every citizen has the right for fair and equal treatment,” Chin said.

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