Cenbet: Paul Young should not resume duty until he’s acquitted from rape charge

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Perak DAP assemblyman Paul Yong banters with Opposition assemblymen at the State Legislative Assembly in the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh November 15, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — A centrist rights group has called on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and senior Pakatan Harapan leaders to force Perak DAP state legislative assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong to resume leave.

Datuk Simon Lim Seng Chai, vice-president of Centre for a Better Tomorrow, said the group was shocked that the state executive councillor was allowed to resume duties less than three months after public pressure forced him to take leave.

“More disturbing is the fact that he did so despite not yet being acquitted of the rape charge he is facing,” Seng Chai’s statement read.

“In fact, the trial has not even commenced.”

Yesterday, Malay Mail reported that Yong had resumed his official duties as state executive councillor despite previously saying he would take a leave of absence for the duration of his rape trial.

Yong, who represents the Tronoh state seat, confirmed his return via a WhatsApp group after the media asked him why he was submitting written responses on behalf of the state government to questions in the state assembly.

He claimed the decision was made after discussing with Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Cenbet said they found Yong's claim shocking, noting the latter himself had in August asked the Tronoh assemblyman to take leave pending the conclusion of the trial.

As a coalition that champions good governance, Seng Chai argued that the new federal and state administrations must intervene.

“We call on the Prime Minister and other senior government leaders to intervene on this, with

the aim of getting Yong to resume his leave as the state executive councillor,” he said.

“This is in line with good governance championed by the new administration.”

Yong's action yesterday drew public uproar but his lawyers defended the move. They reportedly said that there were no legal grounds against the executive councillor returning to work.

Cenbet, however, countered to say Yong taking leave was a matter of “moral duty and good governance”, and not legality.

“We'd like to remind him that this is not about legality, but a matter of moral duty and good governance, the latter a principle which we promote,” Seng Chai said.

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