Thursday, 2 December 2010

Selangor State Pakatan Government vs SYABAS water tariff dispute, why choose confrontation and demonstration

Let me begin with a beautiful poem by Bob Blackwell:


The spirit of life,
spreads everywhere,
to all corners of our globe.
Rain, mist, fog, snow,
form lakes, rivers,
babbling running brooks;
the carriers of life’s soul
life’s bountiful
identity and joy.

Without it,
grasses brown,
trees rot and fall,
no leaves, flowers,
seeds, or fruit;
no shade, no scent,
no colour, food.

Animals, people, die;
no creatures great or small.
Deserts of want appear
no life or giving;
there is a thirst upon the land.
In time, all will wither,
wilt, rot and die.
Then a dirt, an ash
a sandy earth of want,
no open hand,
all life has gone.

More valuable than gold,
a treasure for us all.
use wisely, it is life.
All used up; We die!

Bob Blackwell

I understand that SYABAS has a concession to treat raw water from the Selangor rivers which are most times badly contaminated and process the raw water and turn it into clean treated water which are then supplied to consumers via pumping and gravity flow through a series of water reservoirs and thousands of kilometers of pipelines. In the Concession Agreement, the consumers are not just in the state of Selangor but also the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.[The signatory to this water supply concession is the Federal Government, Selangor State Government and SYABAS]

The confrontation between the Selangor State Pakatan Government and SYABAS is inevitable as it is regrettable, since taking over the Selangor State Government on 8 March 2008, the Pakatan has embarked in populist policies such as free water for usage less than 20 cubic meters of water (free means the State Government will pay to SYABAS instead of the consumer) among others. Short sighted policies that are popular politically but cannot be sustained for long periods as these are expenses to the state Government who will have to find money to pay to SYABAS.

Now comes the problem, treating raw river water cost money, lots of money to pay for the electricity that runs the raw water and treated water pumps, the water treatment plants and the infusion of chemicals such as Alum (Aluminium Sulphate), Lime etc and also the all important Chlorine to kill the germs that will cause cholera or other water borne diseases. Additionally underground water supply pipes do not last forever and needed to be replaced periodically. 

All these cost money and the price of electricity, treatment chemicals, water pipes and price of labour is not static it increases with time. That is why water tariffs cannot remain the same forever, it has to be raised sometimes. I am not in a position to comment on the timing or the quantum of the rate increase as agreed in the water concession agreement signed in 2005. 

However, the Selangor State Government be it a BN or Pakatan Government is bound by the contract to respect the periodic  water tariff raise. Unfortunately, as with many pakatan policies which are more often short sighted than long sighted, the Selangor Government will now have to fork out more money to pay SYABAS  if the water rates raise are enforced as they have promised free water under 20 cubic meter of usage.

Pakatan State Government had  instead of trying to remedy their short sighted policy [look, there are no such thing as a free lunch in this blessed world friends], has embarked on a confrontation with SYABAS no doubt with a big political agenda to save themselves from being kicked back into the Opposition box in the Selangor DUN, read here and even asking students who are sent to universities by their parents to study and get a good degree to participate in demonstrations read here. Why am I not surprised with PKR's latest dirty tactics..oh yes, PKR will demo against anything and any body include themselves for whatever reasons under the sun.

I think the right thing to do is to first negotiate, as the Concession is not just signed by the Selangor Government but also by the Federal Government with SYABAS. If negotiation fails then go to court and ask first for an injunction to stop the raise while the State Government ask the Courts to decide on the water tariff raise. Would that not be a sensible thing to do. It shows political maturity.

You Pakatan people wants rational explanation to the water tariff dispute? Have a read to what the exMB of Selangor has to say here. He makes a lot of sense this time. The times outside the MB office has made him a reflective and thoughful person and that is only good for his political career.

I have been in the water supply industry quite a bit, I can say that literally water is a life giver but it can also drown you without so much of a warning if you do not know how to handle it carefully. The MB of Selangor better know what he is doing with this water tariff issue. Don't play play with water Tan Sri:

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