IPOH, March 27 - With the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election just days away, the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled Perak Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today recommended to freeze the salaries of both rival governments.
The State Assembly PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said the committee decided to freeze the pay for Menteris Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir together with their respective executive councils.
"We want to avoid the double payment of their wages, allowances and any perks until the legitimate mentri besar and his exco men have been established," Wong told reporters here today.
The DAP's Canning assemblyman said all decisions made by the PAC were legally binding and state departments and officials had to abide by the committee's decisions which extended to Nizar's 10 fellow councillors and Zambry's six councillors.
To top it off, the PAC also ordered State Secretary Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim, who unceremoniously failed to turn up for the committee's meeting yesterday, to boot Zambry's three advisers and state information chief from their offices.
Wong said this was because the appointments of the four - Datuk Chang Ko Youn (Chinese affairs), Datuk S. Veerasingam (Indian affairs), Kapt (rtd) Datuk Mohd Najmuddin Elias Al-Hafiz (Islamic affairs) and Datuk Hamdi Abu Bakar (state information chief), were unnecessary.
"We feel that their tasks could have been given to the executive council members so their appointments are questionable," he added.
Wong said that the committee would prepare a report and present it to the next assembly sitting to be deliberated on and adopted. "This is for the purpose of formality," he said.
Wong was also quick to deny that the PAC was biased in arriving at its decision, although many may consider it so especially since the committee now only comprises PR members.
"We are not here to decide who the legitimate mentri besar is. We are only here to ensure that there is no wastage of public funds," he said.
The Perak Pakatan Rakyat has also accused the Ipoh City Council of misusing public funds when it employed 22 people to remove the coalition's memorial plaque for its 'democracy tree' - the rain tree that was the venue for its last assembly sitting after it was toppled from government.
He said the council ordered its workers to remove the plaque early Sunday morning on March 15 which meant overtime for the staff.
"Why do they need so many people when it only took four of us to erect the structure? And why were they so efficient that they had to do it on a Sunday?" he told a press conference today
Ngeh said that the discovery was made when Tebing Tinggi assemblyman Ong Boon Piow paid a visit to the council on Monday to collect the remaining structure of the plaque and PR's five signposts for their other five newly planted saplings.
"He was asked to pay RM830.40 - RM580.40 for the overtime claims of 20 council staff, the use of the excavator, the driver and RM250 as a fine," he said.
Ngeh also claimed that the council's act of removing the plaque as a way to exercise its powers under Section 46(1)(a) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 was illegal.
"The act allows the council to remove objects that pose as an obstruction.
"But you and I all know that the plaque was not an obstruction because if it were an obstruction, then the democracy tree itself is an obstruction too. Does this mean they will cut the tree?" he asked.