‘Selangor-federal water deal is under threat’
In a joint statement, the panel members warned that “a crisis” may develop between the federal and Selangor governments as a result of this situation.
Under the ‘gentleman’s agreement’, Selangor is to assist the federal government to build the Langat 2 water treatment plant, while the federal government would work to resolve the restructuring of the several water concessionaire companies operating in the state.
“The dispute started when the federal government claimed that the Semenyih and Bukit Nanas dams, along with thousands of kilometres of pipes in the state, belong to Putrajaya, while the Pakatan government claimed otherwise,” the statement issued by four Pakatan leaders says.
The statement is jointly signed by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and former Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
They further said assets such as dams and rivers, from where the water is sourced, are certainly state government assets. This is based on opinions of those who are familiar with land law and the water industry.
The Selangor government, they said, should have through its new entity ‘Air Selangor’ (Selangor Water), resolved the negotiations to buy Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) from Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd last month.
However, the four said the federal government wants the Selangor government to extend the negotiation period for another month, following the unresolved issues.
Puncak Niaga has earlier agreed to a second extension, to March 9, on the date for the handover of Syabas to the Selangor government.
Water negotiations derailed?
Also today, The Edge reported the precarious position of the water deal, citing how fragile the negotiations have been and that any dispute could derail the consolidation plans.
It further said checks it made revealed that the Selangor state’s unit, Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd, has a 30-year concession in the privatisation of the Sungai Semenyih Water Supply Scheme.
Meanwhile, Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd (Financial Dashboard), which wholly owns water treatment company Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd, controls the Bukit Nanas water treatment plant.
The Edge further cited that parties familiar with the water business say dams, like rivers, are the source of water and thus are state assets. Pipes are also said to be owned by the state. Nevertheless, it is likely that the federal government will have equally strong arguments for its case.
The four Pakatan leaders said Puncak Niaga was offered RM3.1 billion to sell Syabas and another RM2.8 billion for Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB).
Syabas and PNSB own Puncak Niaga. Splash, another water concessionaire, was offered RM1.8 billion while Konsortium Abass was presented with a RM992 million offer, making the total buyover cost of the assets of the water concessionaires to hit RM9.6 billion.
Pua, Charles, Rafizi and Dzulkefly said this went against the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Wasia), which makes the management of the water to be given to the various states for it to be consolidated, and not like what was going on in Selangor today.
“The federal government appears to be re-writing the terms of the agreement with the state and this goes against Wasia. It is as if they are shifting the goal post at the last minute, where else the state wants to finalise the deal which had been delayed for this long.
This latest development, they said, was suspicious and confusing to various parties as some foresee corporate figure Rozali Ismail (left) as not willing to surrender but to further strengthen his position with the federal government.
“What is certain is that the federal government will delay the deal and in the end the victims are the people of Selangor and the consumers in the Federal Territory and Kuala Lumpur.
“We have started an information programme on this to inform consumers and the people in the state who are victims,” the four panel members added in their statement.