Sabah born Amarjit Singh has been appointed to head the Sabah Water Department, making him the current highest ranking Sabahan Sikh in the state civil service.
The 48-year old engineer has come a long way from the early days when he worked as water meter reader while waiting for his STPM results.
“All these years, I’ve been involved in water supply works. That’s my area of expertise,” he told Asia Samachar in a phone interview.
He is a third generation civil servant from his family as both his paternal grandfather Sohan Singh and father Amrik Singh were drivers with the state Public Works Department (PWD).
“My parents are so proud of my achievement,” he said. His mother is Neelam Kaur.
Amarjit is married to Doreen Anthony, a Kadazan, and they have two boys aged 10 and seven.
He is the third local Sabahan to assume a state director post. The first was Gurbaksh Singh Kler from 1963 to 1975, and the second was his son Balwant Singh Kler from 1975 to 1993, as state sports director in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. in state ministry of C. Y. & Sport as state sports director. [Updated]
Amarjit’s appointment has been shrouded with controversy as he was one of 11 people picked up in connection with corruption investigations involving some RM1.5 billion worth of rural development projects in Sabah last year.
Others picked up by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in the high profile case included political party Warisan president Shafie Apdal, who is now Sabah chief minister, and his vice-president Peter Anthony, who is the present Sabah infrastructure development minister, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
However, no one was charged and all were released on MACC bail, the report added.
In a report today, Anthony defended Amarjit when he told FMT that he was a qualified water engineer.
Amarjit is the secretary of the Putatan Parti Warisan Sabah.
“I became active in politics in 2016 when Warisan was established,” he told Asia Samachar.
Amarjit has a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and a Master in Science in Water Engineering from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
He started working in 1997 as an engineer in Sarawak. After a year, he moved to water related jobs beginning with a stint as a site engineer for a contractor in Johor. He was a senior operations manager with Syabas.
At one point, he came back to Kita Kinabalu to join a local consulting firm as a project manager, doing more of design engineering work related to water supply.
“I’ve also had experience in consulting firm on the supervision side,” he said.
His last stint was as a director at GCU Consultants, handling their projects in Sabah.
“We were doing all sorts of water supply works,” he said.