Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Minister Calls on Selangor MB to Be Cooperative on Water Problems

Aside from the big issues such as the economy, education and security, for the people of Selangor, water was one of the key talking points in the run up to the 13th General Election. And the question on many of their parched lips was "Where has it all gone?"

Between the belligerent attitude of the returning Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and the resources of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd, which he had stretched to emaciated levels, water supplies in the state have been irregular at best.

At its worst, entire neighbourhoods have regularly gone without clean water supply for days on end, bar the oversubscribed emergency trucks rationing out this most basic of necessities.

In the relatively backwards PAS state of Kelantan and the (formerly) PAS-led Kedah such troublesome supply issues could largely be understood. Indeed the promise of a resolution to the years of water worries no doubt played a part in Barisan Nasional winning back the latter on May 5.
But what excuse does Selangor, the wealthiest state in Malaysia, have for such a shoddy supply?

During the height of the election campaign, Pakatan Rakyat was happy to have us believe that it was a Federal Government conspiracy, and that Putrajaya was manipulating Syabas to win votes.
Rather than look for a solution, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was happy to politicise the problem and drag it out to its bitter end.

His obstinacy is a stark contrast to the new Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximum Ongkili who, in his first week in the role, has asked to meet the MB to discuss a resolution.

"Political differences should be set aside (and) scoring points over each other will be the last on the list," Dr Ongkili said.

"I hope to sit down with (Khalid) as soon as possible, as soon as we have explored areas that we can work together, taking into account decisions and agreements made previously. I am full of confidence that we can talk sense."

It is a good offer from the Minister and one that Khalid will hopefully be wise enough not to ignore.
Even since May 5, tens of thousands of consumers in Selangor have faced disruptions and unscheduled shortages to their water supply.

Just this weekend 13,500 homes were hit, leaving Syabas to activate its emergency response plans, sending out trucks full of water to hot spots where householders could come to fill up their buckets.
For Khalid the disruptions are embarrassing. Just days after being sworn in for his second term he publically promised that with more time he would try to prioritise the water crisis he failed to solve in his first term in office.

Whether or not that will mean a long overdue completion of the Langat 2 plant remains to be seen, but for the people and businesses of Selangor it is at least a step in the right direction.

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