Selasa, Januari 18, 2005

NGOs unite to stop water privatisation move

Nurul Nazirin
A coalition of seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that is lobbying against privatisation of water supply, today submitted a memorandum to Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang at the Parliament lobby.

Led by Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, the group timed its action to take advantage of the special three-day Parliamentary sitting from today.

Among other matters, it will debate constitutional amendments to transfer power from state governments to the federal government to take over the supply and management of water to consumers. It is widely known that this will be done through privatisation.

In its three-page memorandum, the coalition - comprising consumer groups, trade unions and community-based organisations - argued that privatisation would deprive consumers of the basic human right of access to water.

Syed Shahir reiterated that the government should listen to public views on this matter, to which Lim said he would raise the issue during the debate in Parliament.

The group also approached Backbenchers Club president and Johor Baru member of Parliament Shahrir Abdul Samad, who was in the vicinity, to present their case.

He conceded that privatised water supply has not delivered expected results in some cases.

“They (the companies) have not privatised it the right way. And we have to (live with the) consequences...some companies don’t even have goals,” he said.

However, Shahrir pointed out that this is why the federal government has to get involved in ensuring proper water supply - at present, it has no control over this - as it is a state function.

He said that, with the proposed establishment of Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara as a regulatory body, better control is expected over the concessionaires.

Economist Charles Santiago, who was present, told Shahrir that key MPs should consult NGOs on the issues involved and alternatives available, such as the Penang water management system.

The coalition will go on a nationwide roadshow from next month to inform and educate consumers on the adverse impacts of water privatisation.

Tiada ulasan: