Malaysia in danger of being reduced from a first-rate nation near developed nation status into a third-class nation facing problems about providing basic needs of its people like clean air and water because of complacency and sheer incompetence of leaders and officials


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Malaysia is in danger of being reduced from a first-rate nation near developed nation status into a third-class nation facing problems about providing basic needs of its people like clean air and water because of complacency and sheer incompetence of government leaders and officials.

During question time in Parliament yesterday about the environment, I had asked why Malaysia is faced with an environmental crisis despite all the environmental plans and strategies of the government, to the extent that Malaysia is in danger of suddenly being reduced from a first-rate developed nation into a third-class nation where the people cannot enjoy basic needs like clean air and water.

I read out two emails which I had received reflecting the latest concerns of Malaysians, one from a Mr. Chan from Miri who complained that the API (Air Pollution Index) in Miri on Sunday was over 1,200 "as revealed by Shell" and said: "But we people are forbidden to know or even publish the truth. Do help us. We are dying."

Another email from a resident in Jalan Riang, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday was about the water woes faced by 600,000 people in the Klang Valley, and said:

"We, the residents of Happy Gdn. & Jln Riang havenít had water for 14 days.

"The zonal water schedule is a complete and utter failure. Please bring this up in Parliament.

"We donít have money.

"We donít have jobs.

"Our cars have been repossessed.

"Now we donít even have any WATER".

The response of the Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Abu Bakar Daud was most shocking, claiming that the water woes was the "price of development", that it was the result of pollution by industries at Sungai Langat, that the people should be patient and that even he, a Deputy Minister, had gone without water for a day.

It would appear that the Deputy Minister thought that his answer was adequate to justify the water shortage crisis in the Klang Valley.

The water woes faced at present by 600,000 people in Klang Valley is not the "price of development" but the "sins of misdevelopment", the failure of government as well as the result of the complacency and sheer incompetence of government officials.

The Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environmentís answer is an example of such complacency. The 600,000 people in Klang Valley who are suffering every day because of the critical water shortage supply and whose sufferings are likely to worsen in the coming months are not interested that a Deputy Minister also went without water for a day. They want to know how a nation which aspire to fully developed nation status could be so incompetent as to allow such a major water crisis to erupt without any contingency plan and how all resources are being mobilised to reduce the hardships of the people.

Just asking the people to be "patient" is not an acceptable government response to the water crisis or the haze disaster.

I call on the Cabinet at its meeting tomorow to fully explain why the government authorities had been caught completely off-guard by the water shortage crisis to the extent that they are totally unprepared with contingency plans, despite warnings of such a looming crisis many years ago.

The Cabinet should also direct government leaders and officials to wipe out the complacency syndrome illustrated by the Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environmentís answer in Parliament yesterday, who seem to think that it is no fault of the government whatsoever if the people suffer hardships whether as a result of a water shortage crisis or a return of the haze disaster.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has admitted yesterday that the authorities had responded poorly to the water shortage in the Klang Valley but the people want to know why the authorities had responded so poorly, who should be responsible and what action had been taken against government leaders and officials whose failures and incompetence have brought about the water shortage crisis in the Klang Valley.

(31/3/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong