Malaysia

Selangor says to take over water concession in 14 days

SHAH ALAM, Jan 30 — The Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government will proceed to take over the state’s water concession within 14 days, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said today.

“We have written to the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Kah Fui to notify him that we will take over the state’s water services from the concessionaires within 14 days,” Khalid (picture) told reporters after chairing the state’s executive council meeting here. 

“We are holding on to the word of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Water, in Sabak Bernam recently that the federal government will not stop the Selangor government from taking over the state’s water services,” added the PKR leader.

Muhyiddin had reportedly stated as such four days ago when he reiterated that the Langat 2 water treatment plant project will commence despite Selangor’s opposition.

The state has steadfastly opposed the federal government’s Langat 2 project, citing the high costs involved that would force the state to increase the tariffs for water and renege on its pledge to provide the utility cheaply, a policy PR had introduced after winning power in Election 2008.

To facilitate the process, Selangor had first mooted the takeover in 2009, offering to buy Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) and Konsortium ABASS at RM5.7 billion. The offer was rejected.

We are holding on to the word of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin…in Sabak Bernam recently that the federal government will not stop the Selangor government from taking over the state’s water services. — Khalid Ibrahim

Last year, Khalid was reported to have increased the offer to more than RM9 billion to take over all assets and liabilities of the companies, including their bonds.

The tussle for control of treated water supply in the country’s most developed state has become major vote fodder in the run-up to Election 2013 after Syabas raised the alarm last year of a possible crisis in the near future due to near-zero reserves at the state’s water treatment plants.

In recent weeks, Selangor and Syabas again locked horns when each blamed the other for the Klang Valley water crisis.

The blame game between the private company and Khalid’s government has been going on for months and took a new turn earlier this month when the mentri besar mooted a media drive relating their version of events plus a weekly update of the water problem, alleging that the latest disruption was due to Syabas’s poor upkeep leading to faulty pumps in urban Wangsa Maju and Pudu Hulu Baru.

Syabas, in retaliation, placed full-page advertisements in several major newspapers to rebut Selangor’s claims. 

The protracted battle for control of water resources Selangor has thrown a spotlight on how much money is at stake in the strategic industry and is potentially another example of Mahathir-era privatisation gone wrong.

It could also tilt the balance in the battle for both Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, depending on who voters ultimately blame for cuts to their water supply. PR parties rule Selangor and control 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in the Federal Territory.

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