Is KL City Hall facing a ‘brain drain’ with appointment of ‘outsiders’ as advisors, special functions officer?

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has opted to keep mum over its controversial appointment of three of its former directors as advisors and a special functions officer, earlier this month.

The council’s silence, however, is fuelling further speculation, if City Hall was facing a “brain drain”.

On Aug 9, Twentytwo13 reported that City Hall had appointed Datuk Ibrahim Yusoff as the socio-economic development advisor, Datuk Tan Keng Chok as project management and maintenance advisor, and Mohd Sori Hussain as special functions officer for information and communications technology (ICT).

Ibrahim was the former executive director for socio-economic development. He retired in 2020. Tan, who retired in 2016, was the council’s former executive director (management), while Mohd Sori once served as the council’s ICT director. The appointments were made on Aug 1.

Its corporate communications department told Twentytwo13 that “City Hall would not comment at the moment”. No other reasons were provided.

Concerns had been raised on whether the new appointments were political or superfluous, given that City Hall already has directors in those positions.

“Previously, promotions were done from within. But this time around, the mayor (Datuk Kamarulzaman Mat Salleh) chose to appoint from the outside, as there were vacant positions at the top level,” said a source familiar with the appointments.

Twentytwo13 was informed that the three appointments were probably made due to the fact that there were no high-ranking officers to fill up the top management positions.

There are three executive positions to be filled in the council. The position of executive director (planning) became vacant last month following the retirement of Datuk Sulaiman Mohamed.

Another position will also be vacant, as executive director (socio-economic and project management) Datuk Azmi Abdul Hamid, is set to retire next month. Meanwhile, the other executive director (management), Khairul Anuar Mhd Juri was suspended after he was charged in court in June, under Section 498 of the Penal Code, with enticing a married woman for the purpose of illicit intercourse.

This leaves the council with only one executive director – Mohamad Hamim – who is executive director (project management).

Observers however, say such a rationale for the latest appointments could be detrimental to City Hall’s existing staff.

“Even if the current crop of directors do not possess Jusa B or C grades, they can be appointed as acting executive directors,” said one observer.

“Everyone needs time to learn, and in due course, they can be promoted to their respective positions.”

Another observer added that promotions can be made by the mayor, upon recommendation by the council’s human resources department, and there was no need to wait for promotions to be made by the Public Service Department.

“The entire fiasco does not look good on City Hall. Why are retired and former officers being brought in, when they can be appointed from within? Why hasn’t the council paid attention to putting in place a proper succession plan?” the observer asked.

“To have one person being appointed on contract to advise the mayor seems okay, but to have two retired former directors to advise him, does not augur well.”

City Hall, the observer said, can request for qualified officers from other agencies and government departments to be seconded to fill up vacant positions.

“The council can easily reach out to the Town and Country Planning Department, the Works Department, and even the Valuation and Property Services Department, if it needs people.

“They really have ways to circumvent the problem and do not have to hire retired officers to act as advisors to the mayor,” the observer added.