By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 July 2010

The current spat between BN and PR leaders regarding the budgetary “possibility” of providing free water to consumers is missing the point raised by environmentalists when we were opposing the Sungai Selangor dam.

It’s Water Demand Management Stupid!

Certainly, a precious social utility such as water should belong to the people and not to private interests. Water is a public good and it is the people’s right to have access to clean water and to ensure that the sources of clean water are properly protected.

The Sungai Selangor dam has not only destroyed irrevocably a region of pristine natural environment in Kuala Kubu Baru but has destroyed the ancestral homes of the Orang Asli who lived there. Selangor rate payers are now paying the price of the dam.

During our campaign against the dam, we stressed the urgent need to focus on water demand management. Water demand management includes targets set for per capita water use, and reductions in non-revenue water.

Selangor Rate Payers Expect Excellence

As the richest state in Malaysia, Selangor rate payers expect the best quality of life and the best standard of governance to go with it. The current debates about whether the state is going bankrupt do not humour us. The Deputy Prime Minister may have his own agenda but the PKR’s own leader, Azmin Ali’s warning to the State Government at the state assembly yesterday that it’s spendthrift ways have to stop does not speak well of sustainable governance in the state. He mentioned an instance of the state government spending RM500,000 on a single official ceremony and that the state reserves have dipped below RM800 million. I still remember the PR Speaker telling off the State Exco Ronnie Liu for spending RM10,000 on durian feasts for his constituents.

Who knows what else goes on…Is this corruption, or do free handouts count as corruption only when they are given out close to an election?