DAP opposes attempt to smuggle “pay sewerage or cut water” clauses into the water bills to compel payment of RM500 million outstanding IWK sewerage charges without full accountability for the disastrous IWK privatization –added reason for Select Committee into the two water bills
Media Statement (2)by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Monday): DAP opposes any attempt to smuggle “pay sewerage or cut water” clauses into the two water bills to be presented to Parliament to compel payment of RM500 million outstanding Indah Water Konsortium Sdn. (IWK) sewerage charges without full accountability for the disastrous IWK privatization – which is an added reason why a Parliamentary Select Committee into the two water bills should be established.
IWK head of communications Amin Lin Abdullah’s statement that the RM498 million outstanding IWK sewerage service charges would be resolved when the two water bills, the Water Services Industry Bill and the National Water Services Commission Bill, become law is a real “shocker” to MPs and Malaysians.
Amin said that under the new water legislation, when the proposed National Water Services Commission (SPAN) is set up, there will be only one bill for water and waste water, and if that bill is not paid, the customer’s water supply will be disconnected.
The Minister for Energy, Water and Communications Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik had not been fully frank with MPs and the Malaysian people for he had never informed Parliament and the nation when the Malaysian Constitution was amended in a special sitting in January this year to pave the way for the federalization and privatization of water that one of major objectives of such an exercise was to introduce the “pay sewerage or cut water” provision to resolve the problem of the outstanding RM500 million IWK sewerage service charges.
I call on all Barisan Nasional MPs to take a common stand with DAP and Opposition MPs to oppose such under-handed methods to amend the Constitution to federalize and privatize the water service in order to resolve the problem of RM500 million IWK unpaid sewerage service charges, which had long been a matter of public controversy and even subject of legal challenges by the consumers, many of which are still waiting for judgment in the courts.
The attempt to smuggle “pay sewerage or cut water” provisions into the two water bills to resolve the RM500 million IWK problem is no less than an attempt to introduce retrospective legislation, which is unconstitutional and flouts the fundamental principles of the rule of law. Furthermore, it is unconscionable as against human rights of the poor and low-income as water is the most fundamental of all human rights.
MPs, regardless of whether from government or opposition, should not allow Parliament to be used to resolve the outstanding RM500 million IWK sewerage service charges by resorting to retrospective legislation and violating human rights, and they should demand a full parliamentary inquiry and accountability for the IWK privatization, which had already cost such colossal losses to the public coffers.
The revelation of the secret agenda to introduce “pay sewerage or cut water” provisions has made it imperative that a parliamentary Select Committee into the two water bills must be established to study in depth the far-reaching implications of the two water bills so as to protect consumer interests.
Keng Yaik had broken word after word that the enactment of the two water bills will be a full and proper consultative process. During the special Parliamentary sitting in January, Keng Yaik responded to calls by MPs and promised to take the question of a Parliamentary Select Committee into the two water bills to the Cabinet – but he was the one who got the Cabinet later in March to reverse its decision on January 19, 2005 to approve the establishment of such a Parliamentary Select Committee.
At the Cabinet meeting on 20th April 2005, Keng Yaik agreed to circulate to all MPs the draft of the two water bills within three weeks, and this was announced by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in Parliament later the same day. Three weeks have come and gone, and it is now six weeks since the Cabinet meeting of 20th April 2005! MPs are still waiting for Keng Yaik to keep his word and the two draft water bills.
It is most deplorable that MPs have to learn about the most objectionable “pay sewerage or cut water” provisions in the water bills in the most indirect manner.
Until now, water has been governed by state laws while waste water comes
under federal laws. The National Water Services Commission Bill and the Water Services Industry Bill will "federalise" water supply to allow for the integration of water and waste water services, giving Keng Yaik the opportunity to insert the “pay sewerage or cut water” provision.
In view of the secret agenda to smuggle “pay sewerage or cut water” provision into the two water bills to compel payment of RM500 million IWK sewerage charges, the Cabinet on Wednesday should revisit the issue and give priority to the principles of accountability, consultation and good governance by agreeing to the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee into the two water bills in the June meeting of Parliament to protect and safeguard consumer and national interests.
* 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