18 Mar 2018

In Parliament last week, Selangor Menteri Besar and Gombak Member of Parliament YAB Azmin Ali said the water problem in Selangor was not critical as compared to the national debt issue.

Perhaps Azmin was using the national debt issue to distract attention from a bigger problem- the water supply issue in Selangor.

Azmin claimed that the water issue in Selangor was not critical. However, the facts have proven otherwise. In recent years, more than half of the water supply disruptions in Malaysia actually took place in Selangor. According to the Malaysian Water Association, Selangor experienced 259 thousand water supply disruption cases compared to 416 thousand cases nationwide.

Although there were water supply disruption cases in other states, it is not as bad as in Selangor where millions of people were affected by supply disruption that lasted for almost a week. Pahang, a state bigger than Selangor, only experienced two thousand water supply disruption cases, which is a hundred times lesser than in Selangor.

The water supply problem in Selangor has not only burdened the people who have to carry buckets of water during supply disruptions. But it also poses a serious public health concern. The state government’s failure in managing the water supply and its delay in the state water industry restructuring has led to inadequate maintenance of the water supply system in Selangor in the last 10 years.

Decades-old water pipes have not been replaced and have caused frequent pipe bursts that in turn caused frequent water supply disruptions. Every time a pipe bursts, dirt and soil enter the water supply system which causes contamination from bacteria, minerals or heavy metal.

And when there are thousands of cases of burst pipes in Selangor every year, imagine the amount of contamination that enters the water supply system. Water treatment plants which have not been adequately maintained in Selangor worsen this situation. The murky and rusty water coming out of water taps in Selangor is symptomatic of this problem.

Selangor has the highest number of water quality complaint cases compared to all other states in Malaysia.

This is perhaps why many Selangoreans have installed their own water filtration system at home, because we know the water in Selangor is not clean enough. However, for those who can’t afford to install water filtration system at their homes, they have no choice but to drink water which is not as clean.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of human sickness and disease cases in developing countries originate from water. In a medium to long-term, drinking contaminated water from an inadequately maintained water supply system causes damage to internal organs, nervous system, bones and other disease especially to children, infants and the elderly. This is a serious public health issue.

What is the purpose of having free water if there is no water? And even when there is water in Selangor, the water is not clean and poses health risks.

Despite collecting billions of ringgit in state taxes that have led to an increase in house prices and cost of living in Selangor, the state government under Pakatan has failed to solve even a basic problem such as water supply after 10 years of ruling the state.

Compared to the national debt, water is a basic necessity issue. People can live with debt for many years, but they cannot survive for weeks without water. Not only that MB Azmin got his priority wrong by thinking water is less important than debt, he also seems to be incompetent to handle basic necessity matter such as water. As a result, the people are suffering from interrupted and suspect access to clean water and also high cost of living in Selangor. We must correct this situation now.

Isham Jalil



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