We, the undersigned NGOs, support Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’ decision to exercise its right to take over the operations of state water concessionaire Syabas, apparently provided for under clause 32 of the concession agreement.
By unilaterally announcing water rationing, Syabas is holding an elected state government and the people of Selangor (and the Federal Territories of Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur) to ransom.
Syabas has claimed that treated water reserves are now down to 2 per cent compared to the 20 per cent required to maintain adequate supply.
But Khalid has pointed out that all seven dams in the state are not only full to capacity but overflowing.
For the MB, this sorry state of affairs has risen because Syabas has not fulfilled its responsibilities under the terms of the concession. He claims the firm:
- has failed to reduce non-revenue water below the contractual threshold of 20 per cent
- owes nearly RM3bn to water treatment facility operators
- has failed to invest in facilities and infrastructure to fulfil its responsibilities of supplying adequate water to the state
For its part, Syabas has accused the state government of preventing it from raising water tariffs, thus hindering its ability to improve services.
Instead of allowing Syabas to begin water rationing, the state government has now set up a special team to oversee the operations of Syabas. The team comprises representatives from Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd, Konsortium ABBAS, Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor and Perangsang Selangor.
The firm is required to present daily reports to State Secretary Mohamed Khusrin Munawi and state water regulator Nordin Sulaiman, who is also state water management chief. Additionally, water consulting firms Halcrow, Suez and Wessex Water will review and verify Syabas’ reports.
Since the Pakatan-led government came to power in April 2008, a tussle has developed between the Selangor government and private water concessionaire Syabas, which was appointed by the previous BN-led state administration. Selangor has claimed that it is a victim of a lopsided contract with a hostile BN-linked contractor.
Water is too precious a basic daily essential item to be kicked around as political football, let alone monopolised by any party. Alas, in Malaysia since the introduction of neoliberal policies, the treatment and supply of water has been privatised. It has become a private monopoly.
We demand that the federal government and the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) act immediately to facilitate the takeover of the operations of Syabas by the Selangor state government. The interest of the rakyat has to be a priority. Indeed, water should never have been privatised to any crony or company in the first instance.
The rakyat are watching to see how the federal government, which professes ‘People first’ in its sloganeering, will handle this issue. We should not allow the rakyat to be kicked around yet again. The general election is around the corner.
Endorsed by (as of 26 July):
- Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
- Penang Watch
- SOS Penang
- The LLG Cultural Development Centre
- People’s Green Coalition
- Center for Orang Asli Concerns
- SOS Selangor
- Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit)
- Penang Heritage Trust