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10 APRIL 2024

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tony worried about Khalid: You can't sit back & let SYABAS make a mockery of Pakatan govt!

Tony worried about Khalid: You can't sit back & let SYABAS make a mockery of Pakatan govt!
In response to the issues I have raised over the past 2 days on the water crisis Selangor residents are facing, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has jibed that I needed to be taught on the state’s water restructuring exercise and “why SYABAS is to blame”.
I must say that I’m a little worried.
I have given 100% support to the Menteri Besar and the state government’s moves to restructure the fractured and privatised water industry even when Tan Sri Khalid was criticised from within Pakatan Rakyat. The record will show that I have been most vocal in defending the proposed restructuring exercise over the past 5 years whether in Parliament, in the media or in public forums.
My support for the restructuring hasn’t wavered. Selangor is facing a water crisis today precisely because these profit-maximising privatised water companies are only interested in increasing tariffs, and hence under-invested in the necessary water infrastructure over the past decade.
What’s more, I have also taken very critical positions against the Federal Government and SYABAS over their negligence and complicity in the Selangor water crisis. In fact I must have created such a ruckus that SYABAS deemed it fit to sue me for defamation in order to keep me quiet. While I’ve won my appeal at the Court of Appeal on the suit, I am still awaiting the outcome of SYABAS appeal to the Federal Court.
Hence I’m worried that if even I, still needed lessons from the State Economic Planning Department (UPEN) or the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS), then what of the men-on-the-street? Especially the families who are suffering from constant water disruptions in various parts of Selangor such as Balakong and Bangi?
The people are suffering: Focus on the issue, don't deflect blame
Perhaps instead of arranging a lesson for me on “what the state has done” and “why SYABAS is to blame”, it might be more important for the Menteri Besar and the state officials should pay a visit to the families queueing up with pails to draw water from the supply tanks. I am certain these residents will be extremely keen to hear about “what the state has done” and “why SYABAS is to blame”.
Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim may be absolutely right to point the finger at SYABAS who may have intentionally or otherwise, sabotaged the water distribution process resulting in water shortages throughout Selangor. Hence according to the Menteri Besar, despite the State Government’s “guarantee” that there will be no major water disruption, the promise could not be fulfilled because the State Government has no control over SYABAS, and hence the State should not be blamed.
Some residents might wonder as to why the State Government was so quick to offer “guaranteed” water supply when the State is fully aware that SYABAS has refused to cooperate or even attend state organised meetings.
More importantly however, even if the State Government is unable to fulfill the “guarantee”, the question is, what can the State Government do to provide immediate assistance and relief to the victims of serious water disruptions? Should we not have some empathy and put in place a “Plan B” for these long suffering water disruption victims?
Surely, a responsible and caring Pakatan Rakyat State Government should do much more than just “blame SYABAS” – even if they are indeed the rightful party to be blamed.
Don't take the easy way out
This was the reason why I fully supported my colleague, Dr Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang who had on 20 June, proposed the immediate set up a high-level water task force comprising of the MB, key elected representatives and state officials to find and review solutions, as well as to stay informed of the water woes.
This committee will not only give the state authorities the opportunity to teach us ignorant elected representatives on “what the state has done” and “why Syabas is to blame”. Conversely, it will allow the local assemblymen to share with the top state leaders the problems and pains felt on the ground – so that a solution, particularly in the short-term, can be found.
Therefore, while waiting for the state to finally take over control of SYABAS, we cannot just sit back and allow SYABAS services to make a mockery of the Pakatan Rakyat government. The rakyat does not want to see quibbling Pakatan Rakyat leaders. They want to see a pro-active Pakatan Rakyat government who will go out of its way to share the Rakyat’s burden and ease the pain of their plight.
Tony Pua is the MP for PJ Utara

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