PAS mocks Kelantanese by befriending Mahathir
Issues surrounding the controversial Pergau Dam are why the state suffers from water quality woes even today.
Rosli Khan, Free Malaysia Today
With Dr Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly befriending long-time political foes PAS recently with his “Malay Proclamation” initiative, the time has come for the Kelantanese people to ask the former prime minister questions pertinent to how he dealt with the state during his lengthy tenure as prime minister.
One controversy that arose when Mahathir was PM between 1981 to 2003 and continues to have ramifications today involves the Pergau Dam, a multi-billion-ringgit project that was beset by allegations of corruption and impropriety.
The controversy revolved around the construction of a dam in Kelantan during the early 1990s, shortly after PAS assumed power in the state. It is an episode many may have forgotten but has resulted in much suffering in Kelantan, even today.
In the late 1980s, Malaysia’s economy was facing challenges, and the country sought funding for largescale infrastructure projects to spur economic development.
At the time Mahathir identified the Pergau Dam project as necessary to meet the increasing energy demands of the country.
To fund its construction, Mahathir cheekily sought financial assistance from the United Kingdom instead of Japan, ignoring his own “Look East” and “Buy British Last” policies.
The controversial aspect of the deal involved the provision of a large aid package by the UK government, known as the “Pergau Aid”, to facilitate the construction of the dam.
The Pergau Aid dumbfounded critics of Mahathir’s “Buy British Last” policy. Critics also claimed the aid package was improperly linked to a defence deal between the two countries involving the purchase of arms.
Suspicion of corruption
The Pergau Dam project was mired in allegations of corruption and cronyism.
Critics accused the Malaysian government of awarding the dam contract to the UK-based company without conducting competitive bidding. They also claimed that the decision was politically motivated.
The Pergau Dam controversy raised concerns about transparency in Mahathir’s dealings at the expense of Kelantan and the water needs of its people.
Poor water supply
Electricity supply aside, the Pergau dam was also meant to fulfil the water supply and irrigation needs of the people of Kelantan. Water stored in the reservoir was also meant to be used for agricultural purposes and to improve the local communities’ access to clean water.
However, these needs were not met. Why? Given his new-found relationship with PAS, it is a question which Kelantanese voters must put to Mahathir.
Water quality issues
Despite the dam’s potential to supply clean water, Kelantanese continue to struggle with ongoing concerns about the quality of their water even today.
Other concerns, including the ageing infrastructure, the inadequate number of treatment facilities and water pollution, also require answers from both Mahathir and the PAS government.
These matters raise questions about the transparency and ethics of the project and its financing which must be investigated. The authorities must also thoroughly investigate matters giving rise to the suspicion of corruption to determine their validity.
Transparency and accountability are essential facets of ensuring responsible governance.
PAS is simply mocking its hardcore supporters by befriending Mahathir while turning a blind eye to the state’s water woes.