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Khir mocks water referendum plan

 | July 24, 2012

The former Selangor menteri besar said the Khalid administration cannot hold a referendum without federal consent.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Selangor menteri besar Mohd Khir Toyo today ridiculed the state government’s suggestion to hold a referendum on its water crisis as “naive”.

He claimed the Pakatan Rakyat state government cannot hold a referendum without federal consent as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

“The way I see it you can tell that this administration is naïve and inexperienced. I suggest they study the constitution thoroughly; then perhaps they will understand,” he told FMT.

Yesterday, the Selangor government said it may hold a referendum to allow the people to decide if they are in favour of the state goverment’s intention to take over water concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas).

Selangor excutive councillor for health, plantation workers, poverty and compassionate government, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, said this during a site visit to the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant with the press.

It was a trip aimed at debunking Syabas’ claims that the state will soon face a water crisis following its inability to maintain its treatment plants after the Selangor government refused to allow the concessionaire to increase tariffs since 2009.

This became one of the major reasons behind Putrajaya’s rejection of Selangor’s bid to take over Syabas, according to the Special Cabinet Committee on the Selangor water crisis, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

A question of integrity

Muhyiddin said Selangor has failed “to meet substantive and procedural matters” when it sought to take over the concessionaire.

Selangor had refused to allow Syabas to increase the water tariffs since 2009 after it claimed the water distributor had failed to reduce its non-revenue water (NRW), which currently involved one-third of the water supply.

The tension between the two reached breaking point when Syabas claimed it would need to ration water for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya since its treatment plants were stretched to “overcapacity”, which would result in water shortage.

But Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim rubbished off the claims, saying his government would consider taking over Syabas and also hold a referendum on the proposal.

Muhyiddin also contradicted Syabas’ claim, saying that there was no need to ration water at the moment but stressed that there will be a crisis if Selangor continues to refused the construction of the Langat 2 treatment plant.

Khir said even if it was possible to hold a referendum, he cast doubts on the integrity of the whole mechanism since the state government would be the organiser.

“What is the mechanism? Will the state conduct it or will it be an independent body? If it’s the state, then how would we know it’s fair?” he said.

Also read:

S’gor may hold ‘water’ referendum


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