Sunday, 23 December 2012

AES contractor should sue Putrajaya, not Sepang, say Pakatan MPs

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 ― Private contractor Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd should sue Putrajaya instead of seeking a judicial review of the Sepang Municipal Council’s (MPS) order to dismantle two speed-trap cameras installed in its area under the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES), opposition MPs said.
Lawmakers from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pointed out that local government bodies have jurisdiction to approve or reject the installations although the AES is being undertaken by the federal government.
“Part of the legal issues that is unsettled, this AES did not get approval from the local government ... when it is installed without the blessing (of local government) ... this is against the existing laws,” PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang told The Malaysian Insider.
“That’s why I say they gone to the wrong place. They can go to central government and claim they were misled by central government that everything has been cleared and that’s why they go and pasang (install).
“Now the whole thing has to be dismantled, all the costs incurred, it’s not from us. They should ask the one who awarded the contract,” the Batu MP added.
PKR treasurer William Leong agreed, saying that Beta Tegap needed to get the local council’s approval first as state roads fall within the state’s jurisdiction.
“Yes, because that is PBT area. Everything you need to do, you need the PBT approval... This is PBT’s jurisdiction,” the Selayang MP said, using the acronym for local town councils, which in Bahasa Malaysia stands for Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan.
PAS MP Khalid Samad agreed with Leong, saying that only the local council has the power to approve the installation of AES cameras.
“Maybe they are confused from the legal viewpoint, maybe (they) think that the installation of AES cameras in those highways is under the jurisdiction of the central government.
“Actually all installation plans should be done only with the PBT’s approval, that is MPS.
“This Beta Tegap already (took) the wrong procedure and now is blaming others,” the Shah Alam MP said, agreeing that any court action by the company should be against the federal government instead of the local council.
When asked to comment on Beta Tegap’s court case against MPS, the DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said that the Transport Ministry should be the rightful authority to take action, if any.
“I suggest that Beta Tegap consults the AG’s chamber before going to court. The whole affair is ridiculous. Who is Beta Tegap? It is just a contractor/concessionaires acting on the behalf of the Transport Ministry. It derives its authority from the Transport Ministry.

“Hence, Transport Minister has to decide which course of action to take. To put AES on hold as per AG’s view or to ask the federal government to challenge MPS,” the DAP political education director said.
When asked if he agreed that Beta Tegap should bring the federal government to court instead, Liew said that this would be possible only if there was a breach of contract.
“If the federal government fails in honouring its contractual responsibility towards Beta Tegap, then of course the latter can challenge the federal government. Then again, we don’t know what is in the contract as the federal government has refused to disclose it,” the Bukit Bendera MP said.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd, one of two companies awarded the controversial AES contract, will go to court on February 14 to challenge the directive by MPS.
The Sepang local council had, in a letter dated December 6, ordered Beta Tegap to dismantle two of its cameras that had been set up on the North-South Highway and the South Klang Valley Expressway within 14 days.
Beta Tegap is seeking to declare the local council has no jurisdiction over the two highways, but the company’s legal standing will likely be raised as well because it is a private company contracted to install the speed-trap cameras while traffic summonses are issued by the Road Transport Department (RTD), considered the rightful authority to issue any legal challenge.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has ordered a halt to all court proceedings related to the AES summonses to study legal issues that have been raised even as it said the tickets were still valid, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Malaysian Insider had reported on Tuesday that Putrajaya was considering suspending the implementation of the system as it appeared to duplicate police speed traps along the highways.
It is understood that Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has been one of the few ministers who have been defending the implementation of the AES behind closed doors.
The privatised RM700 million project began in September with a pilot phase of 14 cameras but the RTD has pledged to roll out a total of 831 cameras by end-2013 to catch speeding motorists and prevent more road deaths.
PR had in late October said that it will suspend approval for the installation of AES cameras in the four states they currently rule ― Penang, Selangor, Kedah, and  Kelantan ― pending further study, which would affect the installation of 331 out of the planned 831 cameras under the nationwide scheme.

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