Have guts, make public letter seeking water rates revision, LGE told

Lim-Guan-Eng3PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been told to have the guts to make public a letter from the state seeking Putrajaya’s approval for an increase in water tariffs.

National Water Services Commission Malaysia (SPAN) chairman Liang Teck Meng said Lim should take up his challenge, first issued on July 23, instead of “hiding” behind the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBA) which issued a statement on the matter yesterday.

“Stop being Bo Hood (crude phrase meaning ‘gutless” in Hokkien) and fight your own battles,” said Liang, the Gerakan secretary-general, in a statement today.

“It is also strange that the water company tries to come out to defend Guan Eng. Can’t he take responsibility for his baseless accusations and fight his own battles?”

He said the PBA, in its statement, had said it would run into losses and that it needed an emergency loan from the state government this year.

Saying that such a situation would not be sustainable, he added that SPAN had every right to question how the water company would address the problem, and ask it to evaluate several options which may include revising water rates, or reducing capital or operating expenses.

He said to interpret this move as forcing the state to raise its rates was“pure slander”.

“In any case, the Penang chief minister should stop diverting or hiding behind the water company and take up my challenge and in the name of transparency disclose the letter to all so that the public can judge who is right and who is wrong,” Liang said.

In his earlier statement on July 23, Liang had called on Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, to reveal the application letter from PBA to SPAN dated Dec 23, 2016.

Liang had claimed that the planned increase was aimed at collecting more than RM150 million per year from the Penang people and businesses in order to save PBA from running into losses due to big jumps in spending.

Liang today claimed that it was Lim who first tried to “defame” him by naming him and saying that he was signalling that the federal government wanted to force Penang to raise water rates.

“If I am being slandered, should I not have defended myself by pointing out that it was the Penang government that had first put in yet another large scale and broad water tariff increase request in December last year?” he said.

He added that the December 2016 request was subsequently withdrawn in late February 2017 and later replaced with an application to more than double its “water conservation surcharge”. He said this would still be an increase in water rates by any other name.