Datuk Dr Lim Keng Yaik Should Resign For Backtracking From His Earlier Promise That TNB Bhd Should Pay Compensation For The January 13 Mass Blackout Affecting 5 States
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): DAP expresses disappointment that Minister for Energy Water & Communications Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik has endorsed Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s claim that it is not liable for the Jan 13 blackout which affected 5 states. Keng Yaik said that as there was no evidence of negligence, any issue of rebate should be solely decided by Tenaga at its own discretion based on Section 17(3) of the Electricity Supply Act 1990.
If Keng Yaik’s reasoning that negligence did not cause the blackout is true, then he should state what the real reason is. Section 17(3) states clearly that TNB is only liable for compensation for damage for any cessation of electrical supply in cases of negligence or faulty construction of the installation. TNB is not liable for any unavoidable accident, fair wear and tear or overloading due to unauthorized connection of equipment, or to reasonable requirements of the system, or to defects in any installation not provided by TNB.
To date there was no unavoidable accident such as lightning. TNB has also ruled out human error. And Malaysians remain mystified as to the actual cause as various reasons were given from gas leaks to power overload. The time has come for Keng Yaik nor TNB explained what is the actual cause of the blackout.
Keng Yaik should resign for backtracking from his earlier promise that TNB should pay compensation for the January 13 mass blackout affecting five states. A Minister has no credibility and authority to act and function when he breaks his word and shows himself to be completely unreliable.
On the day of the mass blackout, Datuk Dr Lim’s statement that consumers can claim compensation from TNB was given front-page treatment in the Chinese papers on January 14th. He repeated that after a Cabinet meeting on 27 Janaury 2005 that whether it is a technical fault or human error, NB has to bear full responsibility. Subsequently TNB repudiated Lim Keng Yaik’s disclaiming liability because the mass blackout was less than 4 hours. The statement today demonstrates that Keng Yaik’s does not have authority over TNB nor support from the Cabinet that TNB is liable to consumers.
Whilst Datuk Seri Dr Lim and Tenaga can talk in technical terms the reasons behind the breakdown, the fact remains that Tenaga has failed in its primary statutory duty to ensure regular power supply. Such failure is unacceptable and must not be left unpunished. If power supply can be cut for not paying bills, then Tenaga should likewise be punished for not ensuring supply.
Since the last national power breakdown in 1996, the government has given assurances that it has taken steps to ensure that there will be no repeat. Clearly the government and Tenaga have proven once again that promises are made to be broken. To restore public confidence in Tenaga, it is only fair that full compensation should be paid to those who can prove their losses and a rebate of 20% should be given to consumers who can not.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General