No saints in Selangor water crisis, DAP MP tells Khairy

Tony Pua

(Malay Mail Online) – The Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government is partly to blame for Klang Valley’s protracted water woes, DAP’s Tony Pua conceded today.

But not for the reasons outlined yesterday by Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP added, joining the fray budding between Selangor state and Putrajaya.

“What Khairy is telling us is that the Selangor Government was irresponsible for not agreeing to the BN-sponsored privatisation agreement to enrich the shareholders of these water concessionaires,” Pua said in a statement.

He lashed out at the youth and sports minister, calling Khairy “mischievous” for trying to whitewash the Barisan Nasional federal government’s role in deepening the water crisis by bailing out the debt-ridden private companies that had failed to maintain and repair their distribution system, leading to leakages of the precious liquid that has sharply affected consumers statewide amid a prolonged dry spell.

Pua reminded Khairy that the crisis started in 2011, with Putrajaya moving in to pay off the RM6.5 billion debt incurred by the water companies instead of letting the Selangor government take them over, leading to an impasse between the two.

“With the concessionaire relieved of their immediate debt obligations, these water concessionaires did the only logical thing to maximise profits – that is to stall on the takeover exercise and demand a king’s ransom,” Pua said.

He added that though the standoff finally broke two months ago when both governments reached a compromise, Putrajaya has yet to make good its part of the bargain, which was to get the water companies to sell their assets, failing which it was to enforce the takeover by invoking its powers under the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA).

The DAP federal lawmaker did not spare the Selangor government from his tirade, criticising it for being overconfident that it could complete the takeover within the last five years and failing to come up with a backup plan to deal with protracted negotiations.

“The rakyat who placed their trust in the state government had expected better from us,” Pua said.

He urged the Selangor government to now focus on ramping up the state’s raw water supply and reserves to withstand future shortages, regardless of whether they were man-made or caused by nature.