Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced on 2nd February an additional allocation of RM120 million to Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) to help resolve the water problem in Selangor.
This latest bailout fund for Syabas proved that the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur water crisis has nothing to do with the shortage of raw water which requires immediate water transfer from Pahang via the exhorbitant RM9 billion Langat 2 project.
Instead, it proved that the crisis was a result of a deliberate under-investment by Syabas to upgrade its treatment plants, build additional treated water capacity as well as to repair and replace old and broken pipes. With the RM120 million meant for the above exercise, it showed that the current crisis could have been prevented had Syabas had invested its own funds on the exercise earlier.
It should be emphasized that under the Water Concession Agreement, there is absolutely no obligation by the federal and state government to provide financial grants or loans for Syabas to carry out its obligations to upgrade all the required water infrastructure to fulfil its obligations to provide quality water services to the people of Selangor and KL.
Hence, the RM120 million handout to Syabas is not a grant by the Federal Government intended to assist the people of the state but is instead a well-disguised scheme to bailout Syabas. Over the past 3-4 years, the Federal Government has bailed-out Syabas to the tune of billions of ringgit to keep Syabas afloat.
In December 2009, the BN Government has extended a 20-year RM320.8 million zero-interest soft loan to Syabas. In October 2011, the BN Government again extended another 20-year RM110 million loan to Syabas for the same purpose. And in November, when Syabas outstanding bonds of RM2.9 billion was nearing its due date for repayment, the Federal Government again bailed out Syabas by taking over the entire RM2.9 billion bond. To date, the Mininster of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Peter Chin has not revealed if Syabas has even repaid a single sen of the RM2.9 billion bond bail-out by the Federal Government.
Over the above period, the BN government has already extended bailout funds of RM3.41 billion to Syabas in total.
Despite the repeated offers by the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government to acquire Syabas or even to terminate the Syabas concession for the latter’s failure to fulfil its obligations, the Federal Government has refused to support Selangor’s offer or to agree to the termination of the concession.
It is clear to all Malaysians that the BN Government would rather continue to keep Syabas afloat by keeping the company on life-support with billions of ringgit of the rakyat’s money to protect it’s crony’s profit and interests.
Najib’s economic transformation call is hence a complete sham as he has shown complete unwillingness over the past 4 years to allow the people interest to come first, ahead of BN’s cronies.