Why is Sarawak Energy Board CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit being paid RM5 million a year to "oppress" Sarawakians, asks the state opposition
KUCHING: Sarawak DAP is resorting to an internet signature campaign to increase pressure on the state government to sack ‘incompetent and overpaid’ Sarawak Energy Board (SEB) chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit.
SEB is a government linked company and Sjotveit is being paid almost RM5 million annually to head the agency.
“We will start an Internet campaign to gather signatures in pressuring (the government) for his sacking,” said state DAP chairman Chong Chieng.
He said Sjotveit incompetence had resulted in frequents power outages experienced by Sarawak in recent months.
He also said that Sjotvet and SEB had ‘abused ‘ its ‘monopolistic power’ towards its customers.
He said despite the power outages there was hardly an appology from SEB.
The most recent power outage was experienced by residents of Kota Sentosa, located just outside Kuching city boundaries.
Chong is Kota Sentosa assembyman and Bandar Kuching MP.
SEB and Sjotveit’s discriminative behavior was obvious when they were quick with an appology when a blackout occurred in Mukah on Aug 26. Mukah is hometown of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.
Chong said similar power outages were also experienced in other opposition constituencies such as Sibu and Dudong recently.
“Will they issue an apology statement (for the Kota Sentosa outage)?
“SEB extended an apology for the Mukah outage, but not for the others (Sibu and Kota Sentosa). It’s puzzling as the Mukah apology was issued quickly.
“Was it because Mukah is the Chief Minister’s hometown?” asked Chong.
Don’t oppress Sarawakians He further criticised Sjotveit for using ‘high-handed methods’ in collecting electricity bill arrears from customers.
Chong claimed he had received complaints from SEB customers who had been threatened with legal actions if they failed to settle their outstanding bills.
SEB customers claimed the arrears were due to the company’s ‘ridiculous practices’ and its faulty new meters which were installed in 2010.
He said just prior to the general election, SEB had relented and allowed customers to pay a small percentage of their arrears as if wanting to avoid a legal tussle.
But that somehowever ended afer the polls, and now SEB is back to threatening legal action against defaulting customers.
The situation has take a turn for the worse in some cases with SEB disconnecting the power supply to customers who seeked legal redress.
“Before the GE, SEB prefered to tell the customers they would ‘KIV’ the cases, or even asked them to pay just a smaller fraction of the arrears, perhaps 10 to 20 percent of them.
“It seemed like that they preferred to avoid the courts. But after the GE, they started to revert back to their stringent ways. They are abusing the monopolistic power.
“They cannot use high handed methods in collecting the arrears. I want to ask the CEO, is that what he does for being paid RM5 million every year from the Sarawak people?
“We don’t want him to oppress the Sarawak people,” Chong said.
Chong’s latest call for Sjotveit’s sacking came just days after DAP attacked him for awarding Taib’s companies a major contract to build a RM1.151billion ‘backbone’ 500kV transmission cable from Simalajau to Tondong.