Water – Khalid should own up


Azman Ujang

THE past few weeks must have been a soul-searching time for Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who had ignored warnings about a water crisis in Selangor for most of the six years he has been mentri besar.

The crisis is a reality with some 6.7 million people in the state, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya enduring water rationing.

These three key regions are water guzzlers not only due to them being densely populated but also because of the high concentration of manufacturing industries in Selangor for which water is a vital component.

The water levels at various dams were low prompting the authorities to warn that Selangor and the two federal territories were on the brink of a water emergency.

If this happens, it would be the first time in living memory that such an emergency would have been declared with dire consequences to people’s livelihood and the state’s economy which accounts for about 25% of the country’s GDP.

Already, a major multinational food and beverage company has reported losing some RM15 million daily because of supply uncertainties while a rubber glove maker expects its production cost to increase by RM100 million this year.

“In Selangor there are hundreds of factories and if the situation continues, imagine the consequences,” Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) chief operating officer Datuk Lee Miang Koi said.

Lee and a host of officials have been vocal the last few years warning of a water crisis.

“We have given so many such warnings to the state government and you have written so much about it in your column that it’s a sin not to heed them,” Lee told me.

Water management expert Dr Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani Ahmad Sabri two years ago spoke of a water crisis if the state government remained “stubborn by continuing to block the construction of the Langat 2 treatment plant”.

Syabas technical services executive director V. Subramaniam and Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia president S. Piarapakaran had also expressed similar concerns and each time Khalid’s response had been that the dams in the state were “full and overflowing”.

Khalid has consistently denied the state would face a supply crisis.