PETALING JAYA: Former Klang MP Charles Santiago has called for urgent action on the country’s water resources management, saying it must be viewed as a national security issue.
He also warned that inadequate supplies are driving businesses away from Malaysia.
“Existing companies are departing Malaysia due to inadequate water resources.
“By making water a national security priority, we are protecting the country against the uncertainties of climate change,” he said in a statement.
Santiago, who is National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman, added that sufficient water availability can be a major attraction for new businesses.
He called for private firms to play an essential role in water conservation and elevate water’s priority in environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.
Santiago said viewing water resources from a national security perspective would give the sector the highest priority in government planning and resource allocation.
“The 2024 budget allocates RM1.1 billion for infrastructure development for Sabah, Labuan and Kelantan. However, the building of 5 littoral combat ships cost RM11.9 billion despite us not being at war,” he said.
He said that if the water sector were to be allocated RM11.9 billion, the country could achieve tremendous gains in initiatives to reduce non-revenue water rates, push towards reclaimed water, cleaning of rivers, and the development of other water infrastructures.
In September, Kelantan’s Sultan Muhammad V, called for an investment mission to be carried out to ensure the state continues to be promoted as a competitive investment destination.
The state needs sustainable development, with emphasis on environmental protection, he was reported to have said.
The ruler also called for more sustainable and holistic management of the state’s water resources, including reducing non-revenue water, which reached 53.7% last year.