Tourism DG's demotion illegal under Federal Constitution, claims Isham Jalil [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Umno supreme council member Isham Jalil has claimed that the demotion of former Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Ammar Abd Ghapar was illegal.

Isham claimed he was informed that Ammmar was not given any right of response before he was demoted by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

He claimed that Ammar was only given several days' notice to vacate the position.

"The minister claimed that the director-general did not perform. However, reasons such as non-performance does not void one of the right to be heard in the process of termination or demotion," he said in a statement today.

Isham was commenting on Tiong's statement on Saturday, in which the latter explained the decision behind Ammar's demotion to deputy director-general.

The minister had claimed that Ammar's demotion was due to non-performance and for failure to meet expected standards.

Ammar, he claimed, had not made any plans to improve the tourism industry and alleged that even state industry players were complaining about the lack of engagement from the tourism board.

Isham, meanwhile, claimed that ministers cannot arbitrarily sack or demote any civil servant.

The Federal Constitution, he claimed, states that civil servants need to be given the right to be heard before they are sacked or demoted, except in criminal cases, national security, detention or banishment.

Isham cited Article 135(2) of the Federal Constitution, which covers restrictions on dismissal and reduction in rank.

The article, among others, state that:

"No member of such a service as aforesaid shall be dismissed or reduced in rank without being given a reasonable opportunity of being heard provided that this clause shall not apply to the following cases:

(a) where a member of such a service is dismissed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct in respect of which a criminal charge has been proved against him; or

(b) where the authority empowered to dismiss or reduce in rank a member of such a service is satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to carry out the requirements of this Clause."

Ihsam also advised ministers to read the Constitution and not act according to their whims and fancies.

The NST contacted the ministry for a response to Isham's claim. A ministry representative replied by sending a link to an NST article quoting Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Zuki Ali.

Zuki was quoted as saying that the authority to appoint and terminate the services of the director-general rests with the tourism minister, as outlined in the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board Act 1992 (Act 481).

Meanwhile, another minister's aide said Isham's claims would be escalated to the minister and a response, if any, would be issued to the media.

Ammar on Friday claimed that he was removed from his post as of Monday. He claimed he was informed of the move via a letter by Tiong.

The move triggered outrage among labour unions, including the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Employees Union which said it was damaging to image and morale.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, should direct any concerns about the performance of his director-general (DG) to the disciplinary committee and the human resources department.

The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs), meanwhile, had said that proper procedure dictates that a warning letter should be issued, followed by a request for the DG to provide a letter explaining reasons for non-performance.

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