What next for SPAD? Transport groups ask after Isa Samad’s arrest

BY A. RUBAN
File picture shows Tan Sri Isa Samad being brought by the MACC to the Putrajaya Court for remand application, August 16, 2017. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 ― The surprise arrest and remand of Tan Sri Isa Samad, acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), is causing anxiety among transporters in the country.

Two taxi groups expressed concern that SPAD’s operations may be held up indefinitely, adding that it will have a waterfall effect on their operations as well since they are regulated by the commission.

“SPAD is overseeing a few matters of national interest and one of them is the ECRL project.

“Now that he is not in office, who is going to look into SPAD’s operations?” Big Blue Taxi Services founder Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

He claimed matters related to SPAD’s approval or supervision could now be postponed indefinitely until the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) completes its investigations into the questionable purchases of two high-end hotels in Kensington, London and Kuching, Sarawak by a Felda subsidiary that subsequently suffered millions of ringgit in losses.

Isa, who was Felda Global Ventures Berhad chairman prior to his SPAD post, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. The MACC was granted a court order to hold him till August 20 to investigate if there was any impropriety during his leadership of the oil palm giant.

Shamsubahrin reiterated his call to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to appoint a person with experience in the transport industry to head SPAD.

He said appointing someone without the adequate experience would only spell trouble for the land transport regulator.

In June, the Prime Minister's Office announced Isa's appointment as the acting SPAD chairman after Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar retired.

Like Shamsubahrin, Malaysian Taxi Drivers Transformation Association vice-chairman Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain also questioned SPAD’s operation on projects that required immediate attention from its chairman.

“Who is going to sign, approve or advise projects of public interests now?” he asked.

Although Isa was detained for a Felda-related case, Kamaruddin said the matter had garnered public interest and has affected SPAD’s reputation.

SPAD corporate communications head Radha Warrier told Malay Mail Online when contacted that an acting chairman can be appointed from the existing members of the commission.

However, she did not say when or if this would happen.