The RM375 million Syabas pipe replacement project in Klang Valley should be suspended pending full investigation whether Syabas has violated the 30-year Selangor/KL/Putrajaya water privatization concession and the breach serious enough to nullify the concession
(Parliament, Tuesday): Yesterday, the Minister for Energy, Water and Communication Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik said Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn. Bhd (Syabas) has breached the Selangor water privatization concession by using imported pipes from Indonesia for its RM375 million pipe replacement project in the Klang Valley instead of sourcing them locally.
Producing several photographs taken by his “spies” as proof that Syabas had used pipes manufactured by an Indonesian company, PT Growth, Lim demanded for transparency.
Keng Yaik questioned Syabas’ move in appointing a local company to procure the pipes when a special committee comprising officials from his ministry and the Finance Ministry had yet to approve the tender.
Saying that “something is very wrong”, Keng Yaik said that the Federal Government has given a RM250 million grant to Syabas to replace the pipes.
He said the Finance Ministry has written to Syabas on May 20 this year, acting on a complaint from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers that Syabas was not using local material for the replacement exercise.
This was followed up by a letter on May 30 from his Ministry to Syabas reminding them of the concession agreement requirement.
A Ministry of Finance circular issued in 2000 stipulates that all government-funded contracts should be carried out by open tender and approved by the Government, and must include local material and manpower.
What Keng Yaik revealed about the Selangor water privatization exercise of December 17, 2004, the biggest water supply privatization project in the country and the first privatization project under the premiership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is most shocking, another reminder to Malaysians that in privatizations, public interests, whether of consumers or about transparency and accountability, rank very low when compared to profit margins of the successful concessionaire.
There are two things that must be done immediately:
There are many questions that cry out for answer, but I will pose three
Both these nominated companies are not only relatively unknown, they raise disturbing questions about the propriety of such last-minute distortion of the tender process by stipulating nominated companies to be the suppliers, conflict-of-interest and the background of the nominated companies, as Laksana Wibawa, Puncak Niaga and Syabas are believed to have a common factor in Tan Sri Dr. Rozali Ismail, who is executive chairman of both Syabas and Puncak Niaga.
I am extending an invitation to Rozali Ismail or his representative, whether Syabas, Puncak Niaga or Laksana Wibawa to the parliamentary roundtable on water services in Parliament (Committee Room 2) on Friday at 10 a.m. I have also today written to Keng Yaik to remind him of the invitation to the parliamentary roundtable on water on Friday, as he had indicated that he or his representative would attend
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman