Putrajaya agreed to return Selangor’s water assets last year, says exco
KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 ― Putrajaya had agreed last October to return Selangor’s water assets to the state government in a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar said today.
The Seri Andalas assemblyman said in a statement here that during the National Water Resources Council meeting that he also attended, Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director-general Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman had announced the Cabinet’s decision to return all water assets to their respective states.
“Following this decision, the water assets for Penang, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang have all been given back to their states except for Selangor.
“What is so different about Selangor? We request that the federal government be as fair to us as they have been to all other states where the state takeovers of water assets have been completed,” he said.
Xavier (picture) also raised suspicion over Putrajaya’s formation of the Special Cabinet Committee (SCC) yesterday, claiming its members had vested interests in the state’s protracted water crisis.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Peter Chin had announced the formation of a SCC, which is tasked to study the water supply issues in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
The committee, to be chaired by Muhyiddin, includes Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala, and Federal Territories Minister Raja Datuk Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin as members. Chin is not a committee member.
Xavier pointed out that as a Selangor lawmaker, he has attended many meetings with Putrajaya on the state’s water issues, along with many of SCC’s members.
“And all the four members of the new SSC have at one time or another campaigned for need of Langat 2,” he noted, saying this was evidence that the committee would be biased.
Xavier also questioned the timing of the SCC’s formation, pointing out that it was announced only after the Selangor government expressed its intention to take over Syabas.
Unlike the SCC, he said, the Selangor government’s bid to take control of Syabas was to ensure that water is distributed responsibly in the state and public monies would not be wasted on “hefty” salaries for firm’s top management.
“We will protect the rakyat and maintain low water tariffs and free water. Who is this new SCC protecting?” he said.
On Monday, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that Selangor would invoke clause 32 of the concession agreement with Syabas to take over operations of the water supplier, accusing them of being incompetent for failing to lower non-revenue water (NRW) to below 20 per cent and owing RM 2.8 billion in arrears.