We call on the Malaysian Government to announce the details of the privatization of water services that are estimated to be worth RM10 billion


Media Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):  The Government should let the people know how it privatizes water services including the appointment of concessionaires such as KDEB and Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd (PNHB). Why are there only two consortia?

 For many years, the Selangor State Government has spent billions on water facilities like Semenyih and Sungai Selangor dams. It has talked about privatization of water services. Then, there was a water crisis affecting the process of privatization.

 The public are unhappy that the privatization comes after public funds have beenllocated for dams and other facilities. They are afraid of piratization.

 On 7 July, 2003, President of KDEB Datuk Zabir Bajuri said, after signing the said agreement, that the project included the construction of a water treatment system, pipelines and ancillary services.

 "Our track record and experience in water business and the Government's confidence in KDEB have landed us the deal," he added.

 We hope that Datuk Zubir is right and that water services in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur will reach international standard in all aspects. On the other hand, are there no other companies, which have the capability of handling
these services? What are the criteria?

 Apparently, the privatization projects for water services are estimated to be worth RM10 billion. It is learnt that 60% of these will go to PNHB and 40% to KEDB.

 Over two months ago, President George Bush invaded Iraq because of economy and domination of the Middle East. Then, a major share of Iraqi rebuilding projects worth billions of dollars goes to his friends.

 When the Government awarded United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) the North South Highway project, we objected and took it to court. The project cost billions. The ompany called PLUS has been running the highway. For some
reasons, this cash cow went into difficulty. The Government has taken it over, pumping in more money.

 The same applies to Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) that is a major project, also costing billions. We protested, insisting that the manner with which it was implemented was against the interest of the people. For example,
residents were asked to pay first for central sewage system without the system having been installed. Most people did not pay. The company did badly. The Government has to take over IWK. It is still finding its way.

 Now, the quality of water causes concern. Its colour and sedimentation make residents worry. The Government is fumbling. The old asbestos pipes have yet to be replaced. Will privatization improve water services?


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong