Johari Kassim sacked for leading council boycott

(The Star) – GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state executive council has sacked municipal councillor Johari Kassim, the controversial Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) whip who led a boycott of the swearing-in ceremony of council president Mokhtar Mohd Jait.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state executive council unanimously agreed to revoke his appointment under Section 10 (4) of the Local Government Act 1976 during its weekly meeting last Friday.

“Under this section, a municipal councillor’s position may be declared vacant under one of three conditions – he is resigning on his own accord, he is facing a conflict of interest or his nomination is nullified by the state administration,” Chow said.

He added that the state revoked Johari’s position as MPSP councillor under the third condition, and the law did not have provisions for Johari to appeal against the decision.

“The revocation took effect on June 26 and the State Secretary (Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman) will issue an official letter to Johari today (yesterday).

“We believe this action is a stern warning by the state government to other MPSP councillors who followed him (in the boycott),” Chow told reporters after launching a new phase of bilingual road signs here yesterday.

On June 4, Johari of PKR led eight MPSP councillors from his party in boycotting the swearing-in ceremony of former North Seberang Prai district officer Mokhtar as council head over claims that the position had been reserved for a PKR member.

Asked if the state was planning further action against the other PKR municipal councillors, Chow said the warning was “good enough”.

Asked whether PKR leaders had been consulted on the disciplinary action, he said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had discussed it with Penang PKR chairman Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.

When contacted, Johari appeared calm over the revelation but said he was unaware of it.

“I am not aware of it. I had a meeting with Zahrain on Saturday and he did not mention it.

“Anyway, I was appointed by PKR to be a councillor, not DAP or the state,” he said.

In an immediate response, Chow said that if that was the case, Johari should try to “ask PKR to reappoint him”.