Forward    Feedback    

Perak Menteri Besar Should Aim for lowest water rate, reduce non revenue water and not threaten 15% Increase & Privatisation of the water board.

Media Statement
by M. Kula Segaran

(Perak, Wednesday): Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Tajol Rosli Ghazali was reported as saying that water tariffs in Peak will increase by 15% before the water board Lembaga Air Perak (LAP) is corporatised sometime this year.

Tajol Rosli said that households which consume more than 20 cubic meters of water a month would have to pay 15% more. He said the decision was made followi! ng a study by the United States which concluded that each household could sustain itself with 20 cubic meters of water a month.

Now this seems to a bit strange and arbitrary. With due respect to the United Nation study, what if a household is large or very large? Shouldn’t that be taken into consideration before the increased rate imposed?

Because water is a basic need for life”, as in the LAP’s own word as advertised on it own website on 24 January 2006, the all important! and all relevant criterion of NEED rather than the concept of an undifferentiated household be used?

While we appreciate Tajol Rosli’s apparent concern that water as a precious resource should not be wasted and the people should not be wasteful, we should be fair to both small and big households who do not actually and deliberately waste water.

Golf courses – including the Royal Perak Golf Course – and some other enterprise are known to waste a great deal of water, at perhaps artificially low rates. Shouldn’t that be stopped or modified, instead of picking on ordinary people?

Come to think of it, may small households could be consuming quite a bit of water for a good and needy purpose if, for instance, they were hawkers. Should such hardworking and not-very–well-off people be penalized by the proposed 15% increase?

Tajol Rosli said that LAP will not be able to increase tariffs for three years once it was corporatised. So, he argued, the increase would be effective before the corporatisation exercise.

This! is funny type of argument indeed. It is what can be termed as a ‘kiasu’ argument. You increase tariffs because you won’t be able to increase for three years after corporatisation, not because such an increase is necessary, or good, or justified for the Public, not whether it is fair! This is tantamount to kind of ‘grab and smash’ mentality usually associated with snatch thieves and robber barons not a government which places the people’s interests as the top priority

Tajol Rosli has rightly reminded us that Perak has the third lowest water rates in the country. Well done, we say, It is a position that all of us should be reasonably proud of. However, why spoil this enviable position by threatening to impose a 15% increase, and in lasts to beat the corporatisation dateline?

The non-revenue water NRW (water loss caused by leaking pipes and other situations of loss) in Perak is presently 33.7%. Penang NRW is less then 20%. Millions of ringgit  can be saved if measures are taken to reduce NRW which can alleviate the proposed increase in 15% water rates.

If anything, Tajol Rosli, both as Perak Menteri Besar and LAP Chairman, should aim to make Perak the state with the lowest water rates in Malaysia, not the other way round of becoming one with! the highest or one of the highest rates. We have abundance of natural water supply. The people of Perak want to see progress, not regress and going backwards and the lowering of standards. And, in any event, why should the LAP persist stubbornly to go ahead with its privatization program, under the guise of a misnomer at worst and an euphemism at best, behind the façade of so called corporatisation?

The people of Perak do not need water privatization. In the 2004 General Election, the people of Perak did not vote in support of water privatization. And the Barisan Nasional and Tajol Rosli did not campaign for water privatization. Why then water privatization in Perak in 2006? Isn’t this a deception of the people, the voters, and the consumers? The people were never warned or cautioned in March 2004. Why now this trickery upon them?

Because water privatisation was never raised as an issue by the BN in the 2004 General Election, the people of Perak should now be given referendum on the water privatization issue should be held to determine what the people want.

Tajol Rosli and the Perak State Government under the BN and LAP have no moral nor political right to bulldoze water privatization without the specific consent of the people of Perak.

What the people of Perak – just like the people of Malaysia – need is a public-public partnership on water and other public utilities like electricity, telecommunications and public transport, not privatization which sooner or later invariably degenerates into some form of “piratization’ by vested interested and the powers-that-be.

The highway privatization projects of the last two decades in the country are a living and stinging indictment of the utter failure of privatization so far as the interests of the people are concerned. Water privatization in Perak would no doubt benefit UMNO, the BN and their cronies with lucrative projects and money-spinners at the expense of the people.

We call for a voters’ revolt of the proposed privatization of water in Perak. The people must rise and protest democratically, peacefully but firmly against yet another intended swindle on them.


* M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: