We want the state government to stop the imminent privatization of the water supply management in the state 

- submitted to the Perak State government
DAP Perak and 27 Concerned NGOs

(Ipoh, Friday):

Sign-on Petition -- Stop water privatization in Perak

We want the state government to stop the imminent privatization of the water supply management in the state 

On 9th January 2005 the local media reported that the state government has decided to privatize water in the state. Specifically, the Lembaga Air Perak (LAP) will be privatized and water tariff will increase by 20% upon privatization and a subsequent increase of 40%. 

Furthermore the privatization option is being pursed by the state government based on the advice of ‘independent’ consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

We are critical of the state government’s attempt to privatize water management and increase tariff. The local media reports that LAP is a profitable public body. According to reports the LAP profits for 1998 was RM 36 million; in 2002, RM 39 million and 2003 it was RM 47 million. We are baffled why a profitable public body is being privatized.

In fact the profits should be used to decrease NRW and create more efficiency in the management of the LAP.

In February 2005, the UK based World Development Movement (WDM) issued a report entitled: Dirty Aid, Dirty Water: The UK Government’s Push to Privatize Water and Sanitation in Poor Countries. It revealed how the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID), spends millions of pounds funding independent water privatization consultants, to ‘advise’ governments in the developing South to privatize water management. 


In particular, the report highlighted PwC as key ‘independent water consultants’ in the privatisation process. Since, 1997, PwC has received an amount of £24,416,480 for contracts advising developing countries on privatization.  Clearly, the Dfid is using ‘water privatization consultants’ as back door route to force free market policies on developing countries, including water privatization. These consultants have an inherent economic interest to promote privatization for their own survival.

Our greatest concern is that water privatization involves organizing the water supply management around the rules of the market to generate profits. Here, water – a source of life, a common good that belong to all – will be transformed into a profitable commodity. 

Water privatization will entail tariff hikes, an increasing tendency to resort to disconnections to ensure payment of bills, and the transfer of water from poor to rich communities and from rural to urban areas. We fear that water companies will introduce pre-paid cards, a payment practice that might force vulnerable groups to turn to contaminated water sources. Furthermore, poor families will be forced to make trade-offs between water, food, education and health care, jeopardizing their quality of life. Collectively, water privatization will hit the poor hardest.

Furthermore, water privatization will ensure that decisions relating to water provisioning will be based on profit maximisation and not on public health, social equity and environmental sustainability.

The management of water supply in the country must remain in the hands of the public sector. The state government needs to protect, promote and realize the fundamental human rights to water. The United Nations General Comment No 15 unambiguously states that access to water is a fundamental human right, a right that is a prerequisite to the realization of all other rights. In addition, access to water is a legally binding responsibility for which the state is held accountable.

We propose - that the government organizes the management of water supply on an alternative strategy, namely public-public partnerships. It can be organized around the experience of the highly successful Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP). The PBAPP is a highly efficient, profitable water provider supplying affordable water to the public.

We request:

a)      that the state government make available the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report for public scrutiny and consultation. 

b)      that the state government undertake a state level consultation involving various stakeholders in order to ensure an integrated water resource management for the state;

c)      that all attempts to privatize water should be stopped.