July 24, 2012
Syabas Issue: Elizabeth Wong responds
by The Malaysian Insider (07-23-12)
Putrajaya’s admission that water rationing was not necessary in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur has proven that the issue was a political gimmick to discredit the Selangor government, state executive council member Elizabeth Wong said today.
She also said that Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) has been turned into an UMNO tool to coerce the Selangor government into approving the construction of the Sungai Langat Water Treatment Plant or Langat 2.
Putrajaya has said it will tender out the RM3.6 billion plant despite Selangor’s objections, citing hefty costs for constructing a new plant that will take two years to complete.
“The Federal Government has no real solution in improving the supply and management of treated water. In fact, they are trying to sabotage Selangor government efforts to do the right thing to protect people’s interests,” she said in a statement today.
Wong said Putrajaya did not enumerate Langat 2’s capability to address the water shortage whereas Selangor already has a RM225 million plan for water mitigation.
“What is needed is an independent committee to decide which project is more effective in solving the shortage of treated water at a low cost,” she added.
She told the Barisan Nasional (BN) Federal Government to acknowledge its mistake when signing the water privatisation agreement in 2004, saying the error cannot be rectified until now.
“The Selangor government has the right to take over Syabas under the Water Supply Industry Act 2006. The Federal Government’s decision to stop this effort shows that the BN government is partial to corporate companies linked to UMNO rather than protecting the people’s interests,” she said.
Wong also said that the Chairman of the special Cabinet committee on water, Deputy Prime Miniser Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has no experience in the matter and unable to contribute good ideas for water management.
“When he was the Johor Mentri Besar, he made the state water tariffs among the highest in the country,” she added.She pointed out that efforts to privatise water supply in Johor to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s MMC Corp Bhd will add to the “people’s burden”.
“The Johor people will face an unreasonable water tariff, unlike those in Selangor who receive free water. The BN government wants to pawn the rights of Johor people, but Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor will not keep quiet against those making a profit from people’s suffering,” the Bukit Lanjan assemblyman said.
Syed Mokhtar’s MMC conglomerate is seeking to form a special purpose vehicle with Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB), a wholly-owned company under the Minister of Finance Incorporated, to take over the country’s water assets, The Edge Financial Daily reported today.
Muhyiddin told reporters earlier today that the proposed Langat 2 water treatment plant was important to prevent Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from reaching critical water supply levels by 2014.
He said the Federal Government will refer the Selangor government’s planned takeover of Syabas to the Attorney-General as it involved legal technicalities.
The Selangor government has also said it will pay to upgrade two water treatment plants to increase water supply if Putrajaya continued to delay transferring RM225 million for the project.
The two plants, Sungai Selangor Plant 1 (SSP1) and Sungai Selangor Plant 2 (SSP2), are currently running below their maximum capacity output due to infrastructural limitations to channel treated water out to the water supply network.