Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Khalid Promises to Prioritise The Water Crisis He Has Failed To Solve

It's good to see the newly sworn-in Selangor menteri besar Datuk Seri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has heeded the Prime Minister's call for a reconciliation process in the wake of GE13 and wants to make resolving his state's water crisis part of that fresh state-federal dialogue.

But it won't be lost on those who have followed this saga over the past few years that he now favours the very solution, as proposed by Putrajaya, that he roundly rejected before GE13 – construction of the Langat 2 treatment plant.

In fact the federal government always maintained that Langat 2, with its output of 1.1 million litres per day, was the only long term solution to the state's water woes but Khalid's administration wasted valuable months rebuffing the project and instead focussed on short-term solutions that merely nibbled at the edges of a huge problem. As a result construction of Langat 2 is more than two years behind where it could be if Shah Alam had been more forthcoming at the start.

But at least today, in the wake of Khalid winning his battle with his nemesis Azmin Ali for the top job, he is making all the right conciliatory noises.

He is realising that he needs to prioritise a water crisis that for years now he has failed to solve.
"My focus right now is to welcome the prime minister's call to begin with the national reconciliation process, by which the first test will be to resolve the restructuring of Selangor's water industry," he said.

Aside from reaching out to the federal government over Langat 2, in order to restructure that industry Khalid needs to sort out his relationships with the existing water concessionaires that include Syabas and Puncak Niaga. These are the companies he tried to ditch in February when he issued his infamous 14-day deadline for fresh deals to be done.

That deadline passed without a resolution to the problem which means he still has to deal with the contracted water providers despite the poisoned atmosphere (that culminated in a slanging match with Syabas through newspaper advertisements). Make no mistake, there are fences that need to be mended.

The water issue will test the strength of Khalid's leadership in the wake of the power struggle with Azmin which is far from over. Don't be fooled by Anwar's former assistant suddenly declaring his support for Khalid over the weekend after a week of sniping. All this proved was that Azmin is biding his time.

No comments: