PETALING JAYA: Gerakan has accused Pakatan Harapan (PH) of being hypocritical following the allegation by the Penang chief minister that secrecy laws had been breached when the party revealed the state’s application to increase water tariffs.
Its secretary-general Liang Teck Meng, who is also National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman, today said the allegation put into question PH’s support for transparency.
“Since when did Pakatan Harapan leaders care about secrecy? What happened to your commitment to transparency? Has it now turned to secrecy?” he said.
Liang also denied having violated any secrecy laws, saying that he did not reveal the contents of the letter from the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) to SPAN dated Dec 23, 2016.
“More than a dozen stakeholders and associations are already aware of the details of their (Penang’s) application to increase water rates. Therefore PBA’s Dec 23 application to raise rates is no secret,” he said in a statement today.
He also claimed that if hypothetically any secrecy acts were flouted when revealing the existence of the letter, Lim Guan Eng would also be guilty of breaching those same secrecy acts following his press conference yesterday.
“Wouldn’t Guan Eng be guilty of breaching secrecy acts for exposing the existence and contents of letters between PBA and SPAN dated Feb 21, Apr 25 and June 22?
“If this is a convictable offence for me, which it is not since public consultation was already done, then Guan Eng will be fined or jailed three times what I get,” he said.
Liang also said the letter was outstanding for almost two months, and an extensive public consultation exercise arising from the state’s request had already been conducted on Feb 14 before PBA later withdrew its request.
Yesterday, Lim, who is also PBAPP chairman, said it was not proper for Liang to reveal the contents of letters between SPAN and water utility companies, and that he could have broken secrecy laws under the SPAN Act 2006.
Under Section 41 of the Act, SPAN members and employees are barred from disclosing information obtained during their employment. If found guilty, they may be fined up to RM100,000 or jailed for a maximum of three years.
He said Liang had told the press that Penang informed SPAN in writing of its intention to increase water rates.
Lim also said an application to increase water rates was indeed sent to SPAN last December, but was withdrawn in February.
Liang said that based on the frequent increases in water rates since 2010, it was likely that the “large increases” asked for in December would be re-submitted after the coming general election (GE14).
“The water operator and also the Penang government desperately need the additional RM150 million per year revenue to cover projected losses – despite multiple water increases already imposed in the past,” he said.
He challenged Lim to stop “beating around the bush” with personal attacks and reveal the content of the December letter himself.