SEPT 24 ― The latest dirty trick in Umno’s attempt to destroy the present Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor has just been unveiled by the Pahang Mentri Besar Adnan Yaakob, after he opened the mini Maha programme at Dataran Bentong recently. This comes in the form of the threat to review its planned sale of raw water to Selangor if the Pakatan Rakyat continues to rule that state.
“We want a review and may even opt to cancel the agreement as the Selangor government appears not to be interested in proceeding with the deal,” said Adnan.
“Initially, we agreed to sell raw water to Selangor at 10 sen per cubic metre but if Pakatan retains the state in the next elections, we would need to review the price. The agreed price with Selangor earlier was at the time it was under the Barisan Nasional.”
According to the Pahang MB, “if Pakatan is taking charge, we may increase it to RM1 per cubic metre.”
To most Malaysians and me, this is the worst type of blatant political blackmail. How can a political leader with any integrity engage in such threats? How dare the mentri besar use the basic necessity of water as a political football?
It is very apparent that Umno with its Barisan Nasional cronies are scraping the bottom of the barrel in their dirty tricks to retain power in the coming elections.
It is not a surprise that present on the occasion of the Pahang Mentri Besar’s threat were Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar and Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai. The latter incidentally is also Deputy MCA president and Bentong MP. The Barisan Nasional objective is clear and it is to intimidate the rakyat of Selangor – the crown jewel among state governments – into voting against the Pakatan Rakyat.
Unfortunately for Adnan Yaakob, he has underestimated the quality and good sense of our voting public in Selangor and also all over the country. If he thinks that such fear mongering and scare tactics will work, he is living on another planet. I am confident that not only will our Selangor rakyat not be intimidated by this despicable political manoeuvre but also that it will backfire badly on the BN. The days when our voters can be bullied and hoodwinked are over as the coming elections will surely demonstrate once and for all.
To the MCA, the message that it is disgusting and unacceptable that they permit themselves to be part of this political hooliganism must be sent out loud and clear. I predict that this will be the final nail in the MCA’s coffin as they go round the country during election campaigning and are asked the question: why are you supporting the Pahang Mentri Besar when he threatens to raise the water agreement price ten times more from 10 sen to one ringgit per cubic metre just because there is a different state government in power?
Besides this unprecedented act of political blackmail aimed at the electorate, the public should also be alert to the way in which the Barisan Nasional is pitting one state against another. This strategy of fostering animosity and conflict among states has never before happened. Yes, there has been rivalry and disagreement between states. But these differences in the past have been carefully negotiated, and ethical standards of political conduct have been maintained.
Ours is a constitutional system of federalism in which state rights and autonomy are paramount and should be respected. This irresponsible and destabilizing threat by Adnan Yaakob introduces a new element of political instability. This is because federal dominance is not only pursued through the arbitrary concentration of power at the federal level but also sought through the use of state governments acting as proxies to undermine and destroy opposition held states. I hope the legal and constitutional experts in this country can take this issue up and address it without fear.
There is one other issue in relation to the water war being waged by the Barisan which needs to be put out in the public sphere for scrutiny. Adnan disclosed that in earlier negotiations with former Selangor mentri besar Khir Toyo, Pahang had agreed to lower the price from 15 sen to 10 sen per cubic metre in exchange for a share in the water treatment plant. Even at the price of 10 sen per cu m. Selangor is expected to pay Pahang RM70 million a year. If the price is increased to one ringgit per cu m. Selangor is expected to pay Pahang RM700 million a year. Imagine the consumers have to pay this amount! That is why Mentri Besar Khalid Ibraham is doing whatever he can to protect the Selangor consumers.
The proposed Langat water treatment plant has billions of ringgit of associated contracts to be given out – the project itself is estimated to cost RM8.5 billion. Who are these contracts being given out to? Who will benefit from the Pahang state government’s share? Is the Pahang share and concern with the contracts the real reason for the extraordinary action of the Pahang mentri besar in twisting the arm of the Selangor state government?
Selangor consumers should not worry:
Finally Selangor consumers need to be reassured that there are other cheaper sources of water as pointed out in my earlier article. There is no urgency to develop a new source of water supply.
Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim is right in resisting the Langat white elephant which the Federal Government and its cronies are seeking to impose on the state.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.