Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 6th October 2011:
Proposed privatisation of Indah Water Consortium (IWK)
We welcome the reply by Finance Ministry to my question in parliament today as to whether the Indah Water Konsortium will be privatised to 1MDB together with other private entities such as Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd.
When asked to confirm if the IWK will be privatised in whatever form to 1MDB, the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Donald Lim has responded that it will not. He has further added that IWK will instead be restructured and placed under the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.
However, we would like to call upon the Government to take a further step of decentralising the IWK sewerage treatment and management business, and returning it to their respective local councils. The IWK was formed in 1994 as part of Dr Mahathir's privatisation initiative and took over all the relevant functions from the local government authorities. To ensure increased effectiveness and greater responsiveness to issues faced by the people, it is crucial that the local councils are empowered to manage its services.
The centralisation of IWK services has resulted in a costly privatisation exercise where the Government was bailed out IWK from its concessionaire with RM192 million in 2000. The exercise has since resulted in further cost to the government amounting to RM1.2 billion to make up IWK's operational deficits since then.
We would warn the Government against reversing the decision to reject 1MDB's privatisation proposal, especially when attempting to privatise to parties which are facing financial difficulties such as Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd. The latter had recently announced that its shareholder's funds have plunged to RM36 million breaching the Practice Note 17 guidelines of a minimum of RM40 million of Bursa Malaysia before receiving reprieve from Bursa to regularise its position by June 2012.
Should the Government decide at any point of time to revive the privatisation exercise, such exercise must be conducted in an open, competitive and transparent manner to ensure that the interest of the rakyat is prioritised, and the cost to the Government minimised.
Government agencies must not be compelled to adopt MyEmail services to deliver bills and statements at the cost of RM0.50 per email
We view with concern the announcement made by Tricubes Bhd that 4 government agencies have been approached to adopt the MyEmail system and 2 agencies are commencing pilot projects with the company. The agencies which have been approached are the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
We have no objection to government agencies negotiating with any commercial companies to provide better and more efficient services to the public.
However, we are duly worried when the Government starts to use tax-payers' monies to pay for services which are either unnecessary or excessive.
Tricubes CEO, Khairun Zainal Mokhtar has reiterated that He added that "each bill sent via myemail be charged 50 sen to the agency" while normal emails will not be charged.
We would like to reiterate our position in the strongest possible terms our objections to Government agencies paying a single sen for any bills delivered via email. If our local and foreign banks, as well as other utility operators in the country can send my statements and bills to me via normal Yahoo or Gmail accounts, there is absolutely no reason at all for Government agencies to be delivering emails via service providers that charge anything for its use.
We would like to warn that any agency signing agreements to make payments for emails delivered borne by the tax-payers will be referred to the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee to answer for its decision and provide full details on the terms and conditions agreed to in the service contract.
This objection is not aimed against private innovative enterprises but to prevent parties from manipulating exclusive positions and restrictive government concessions from profiting either via rent-seeking or the sheer ignorance of our agencies.
* Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara