(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Malaysian public have always known that there is something terribly wrong with the crisis management capabilities of government departments and agencies, which had been admitted by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Abdullah Halim Ali in Kuala Trengganu last Friday when he said that all senior government officers will be required to undergo a course on crisis management.
Halim spoke of the "public wrath" at the ineffectiveness and incompetence of some government departments and agencies in handling problems citing as examples the water crisis, the haze problem and the illegal construction of Hindu temples.
Yesterday’s episode, where even the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu could not get through to the Selangor Waterworks officials after trying to reach several of them on their cellular phones for ten minutes when he was in Sungai Petani is the conclusive proof of the failure of the crisis management of the water crisis in the Klang Valley.
While Samy Vellu tried to give excuses for the Selangor Waterworks officials by saying that "they could be busy working in jungles where the handphones are out of range", the Selangor Waterworks Department director Che Mohd Che Jusoh was more candid when he said when contacted later: "Sorry, sorry, sorry - it’s Sunday".
Unfortunately, there was no Sunday or respite for the three million people in Klang Valley as far as their water woes were concerned.
When there is a water crisis where millions of people are deprived of their most fundamental human need of steady and drinkable water supply, there can be no Sundays or holidays for those responsible for the crisis management.
The press have reported that the Selangor Waterworks Department hotlines were not being serviced, and The Sun reporters found on a visit to the Selangor Waterworks Department office in Petaling Jaya yesterday that two out of three telephones were off the hook.
Clearly, the Chief Secretary to the Government must step in to show not only the Selangor Waterworks Department but all government departments and agencies how crisis management should be conducted as well as to restore public confidence in the government service.
The public cannot be blamed if they wonder what has happened to all the Clients’ Charters which had been issued by government departments to give top priority to service the public, whether they are all merely for publicity sake but are totally forgotten in the mutlple crises faced by Malaysians.
Instead of teaching crisis management courses, INTAN should give a direct demonstration of how to conduct the crisis management of the water crisis in the Klang Valley and introduce an efficient, competent and fair allocation of water supply with a system whereby members of public can get their complaints attended to, and not met with unanswered hotlines, or indifferent responses if they are lucky to get through or excuses like the department could not attend to the "thousands of calls complaining about water supply disruption and burst pipes daily".
It is also time for the Cabinet to take full responsibility for the water crisis as well as its crisis management in the Klang Valley and this must be top on the agenda of its weekly meeting this Wednesday.