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- Water crisis row: Raid Syabas, says MP
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The federal government should declare a state of emergency, since it is insisting that Selangor will face a water crisis at the beginning of 2012, Klang DAP parliamentarian Charles Santiago says.
According to Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Noriah Kasnon, 1.5 million consumers in Selangor and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya would suffer water shortage unless Selangor agrees to land acquisition for Pahang to resume the Interstate Raw Water Transfer Project.
“(Therefore), the federal government should declare this as an emergency and raid the offices of Syabas (Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd),” Santiago (left) said.
“If it is indeed an emergency, then you have to reduce non-revenue water (NRW), which is at 32 percent and going to waste,” he added.
Noriah had said that only the Hulu Langat water treatment plant – the tail-end of the raw water transfer project – must be completed to secure Selangor’s water supply until 2025.
However, the state government has repeatedly argued that Selangor’s water woes would be delayed if the concessionaire reduced the NRW.
‘Figures given are inaccurate’
Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim had also said that figures and projections cited by the federal government and the concessionaire to push for immediate progress in the raw water transfer project were inaccurate.
Santiago, who is also coordinator of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, said even the NRW figures could be distorted as detailed information has been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
“Nobody knows because the concession agreement (involving the federal and Selangor governments and Syabas) and the audit report are classified under OSA,” he said.
“Given that it is an emergency, and with clauses in the Water Services Industry Act providing for a state of emergency, the federal government can come up with policies (to facilitate investigation).”
With just two years left before 2012, Santiago added, the federal government should initiate the raid on Syabas “within the next two weeks” and get an independent firm to audit its books.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamed and 13 others had in 2007 filed for judicial review to compel the ministry, the federal government and the Selangor government to make the water concession agreement and audit report public.
In a landmark judgment on June 28 this year, Kuala Lumpur High Court judicial commissioner Hadhariah Syed Ismail ordered the contents of the documents to be disclosed.
She also stated in her 19-page decision that she was not convinced such disclosure would be detrimental to national security or public interests.
However, Hadhariah granted a stay order to the Energy, Water and Green Technology Ministry and the federal government, pending an appeal, on the grounds citied by the two parties that disclosure would “upset the administration of government”.
Asked Santiago: “Why would this information upset government administration, unless they are protecting information about the NRW?
“Syabas is milking the cow… but why should it milk the cow when water is not a private commodity, it is a human right.”
Last week, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring access to clean water and sanitation as a fundamental human right under Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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