No seizure of state water assets, assures Nik Nazmi
Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (pic) says the federal government will continue to engage the state governments, especially PAS-held Kelantan, to help them improve their water services industry and water quality. – ALIF OMAR/The Vibes file pic, May 22, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Although improving water quality in opposition-held states may only be successful through federal intervention, Putrajaya will not invoke its powers given to it by the Water Services Industry Act (Wasia).
Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the federal government will continue to engage the state governments, especially PAS-held Kelantan, to help them improve their water services industry and water quality.
“The government is committed to ensuring that development programmes do not discriminate between states held by PAS or Pakatan Harapan (PH).
“We want to take a more reconciliatory approach in solving the long-standing issues of poor water quality, especially in Kelantan,” Nik Nazmi told editors and senior journalists at a roundtable today.
Section 114 of Wasia empowers the minister to take control of water assets if he deems that it is in the public interest to do so.
Nik Nazmi, however, said the Madani government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim prefers engagement and reconciliation, as opposed to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s approach of punishing opposition states by withholding development plans.
“This is not a partisan issue, it is a rakyat issue. Water is a basic right; and we must put politics aside.”
He said water conservation and protecting water resources is the top of his agenda at the moment, especially as the country is facing a severe drought.
He said an increase in tariffs with targeted subsidies will help in this endeavour.
“Even when I spoke to my predecessor about Air Kelantan (Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man), he said it is about governance and administrative issues, not just tariffs,” he said.
After 33 years, PAS-led Kelantan is still being criticised for its poor water management services, with many communities still not having access to clean, much less running water.
National Water Services Commission chairman Charles Santiago had suggested that Malaysia needs a federal water management authority to oversee supply and usage, instead of leaving it to the respective states.
“We need a national identity on water management. We do not want states to use this commodity as means to make insane profits. Also, access to clean water is a fundamental human right that needs to be upheld.
“We need to change the policies and culture on how water is sourced, treated, used and distributed in view of climate change effects.” – The Vibes, May 22, 2023