Water Crisis : A Result Of Corruption, Incompetence & Lack Of Enforcement – Gov Legalise 2,900 Illegal Factories To Dump Wastes Into River

How did those illegal factories get their water supply from Air Selangor, the sole water supplier in Selangor, and electricity from Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the only national power company, in the first place?

The short answer – under table money. The long answer – lack of enforcement, until pollution gets out of control as in the case of Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd.

The announcement that about 1.2 million innocent consumers would need to wait for a minimum 4 days before a water supply resume have left many frustrated – and tempers were flaring up on the social media. The water disruption, which began on Sept 3, affected 1,292 areas in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.

Suddenly, Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Amirudin Shari announced on Saturday (Sept 5) that water supply will be restored by 50% by midnight on Sunday (Sept 6) – just a day after Air Selangor’s CEO Suhaimi Kamaralzaman dropped the “4 days wait” bombshell. Earlier, there was confusion over fake news claiming that water supply will resume at 8pm on Friday (Sept 4).

In a press conference on Friday (Sep 4), Suhaimi said based on Air Selangor simulation, it would take a minimum of 4 days to begin supplying the water. So, either the CEO lied or the Selangor Chief Minister pressured the sole water provider to turn on the taps by hook or by crook? Was Amirudin under pressure to release water to consumers, even though the water was still at unsafe level?

Apparently, several water treatment plants – Sungai Selangor Phase 1,2,3 and Rantau Panjang Water Treatment Plants – were shut down at 10am on Sept 3 due to raw water pollution in Sungai Selangor. Despite attempts to dilute the polluted water by pumping in water, the reading was at the 1 tonne level at 7am on Sept 4 (the reading must be 0 tonnes).

A factory – Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd – located in the Sungai Gong Industrial Area in Rawang – has been identified as the main culprit responsible for the pollution. Selangor State Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology, Innovation and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said traces of solvent odour was detected flowing into the river.

Police said four factory managers, all of them brothers, have been remanded for 6 days. Menteri Besar Amirudin said the factory owner has been instructed to vacate the land in the next few months as well as to demolish the building. Air Selangor and Tenaga Nasional Bhd have been instructed to cut water and power supply to the factory to prevent them from operating.

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Make no mistake. Every government agency suddenly becomes super efficient because 1.2 million consumers were up in arms. The water crisis also provided a good opportunity for certain political parties like PAS Islamist party to divert attention from its scandalous and arrogant minister who skipped the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon his return from Turkey.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the machinery maintenance factory had polluted the river. It was previously fined RM60,000 for a similar offence in March. The defiant owner restarted the factory’s operation in June until today when it’s caught with its pants down again. Thanks to public uproar, the authorities finally decided to prosecute the owners of the factory.

Will the authorities arrest, let alone charge the owners, had the public not expressed their anger? Most likely not – because the issue of water cuts due to pollution has been in existence for as long as one can remember. It happens during the current backdoor Perikatan Nasional government and it had happened in the previous Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional government.

As recently as July, some four months after backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin betrayed and toppled his own Pakatan Harapan government, some 420,000 households in 290 areas in Petaling, Klang, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Langat experienced water supply disruption from July 14 to July 17. But it was a scheduled shut down due to so-called upgrading works.

In April, between 620,000 and 1.2 million households in the Klang Valley were affected after Air Selangor had to shut down four water treatment plants due to odour pollution – the biggest water cut in the state’s history. But the water supply was back within a day. A month earlier in March, the same four water treatment plants were closed due to the same odour pollution in Sungai Selangor.

Last year alone (2019), there were multiple water supply disruptions in the state. In December, 336,930 households in Selangor were hit with water disruption following detection of “solvent-like odour” in the Semenyih River, caused by dumping of industrial waste into manholes in Bandar Bukit Mahkota, Cheras.

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In October the same year, Air Selangor told 119,630 customers to get ready for a 23-hour water disruption in 120 areas in Gombak and 57 areas in Kuala Lumpur. In September, 370,000 Selangor households were hit with an unscheduled water cut after another water treatment plant was shut down due to pollution. In July, odour pollution caused by oil-based waste happened again.

During the previous Pakatan Harapan administration, it had transparently revealed some shocking data. According to the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources’ (KATS) in 2019, Selangor was the No.1 state in the country that suffered the most number of “unscheduled water” supply interruptions – throughout the years from 2014 to 2017.

KATS unveiled that Selangor’s “unscheduled” water cuts hit 84,796 of 174,997 (48.45%) nationwide incidents in 2014, and 81,969 of 167,055 (49%) total cases in 2015, before improved significantly in 2017 (19,061 of 61,517 or 31% in 2017). As for “scheduled” water cuts, Selangor also topped the chart with 2,256 incidents in 2014, 1,760 incidents (2015) and 798 incidents (2017).

Obviously, “unscheduled” overwhelmed “scheduled” water cuts by a huge ratio of 37-to-1 (2014) and 46-to-1 (2015). The complaints lodged by Selangor consumers alone were a whopping 133,353 in 2017 before decreasing to 111,025 in 2018. Under previous Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali (2014-2018), the state was also plagued with water disruptions.

For example, in Sept 2016, some 337,000 consumers were without water supply for days when the Sungai Semenyih treatment plant was contaminated with contaminants suspected to have originated from the Semenyih Hi-tech Industrial Park. The next month (Oct 2016), the same treatment plant was hit with odour pollution originated from the Nilai Industrial Park at Negeri Sembilan.

Even though water is under state jurisdiction controlled by opposition Pakatan Rakyat (rebranded as Pakatan Harapan), the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment was Wan Junaidi (2015-2018) from the corrupt Barisan Nasional government. In fact, then-Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin had blamed the federal government for the water contamination at Sungai Semenyih, claiming it was an act of sabotage.

Mr. Azmin had actually identified spillage of hydrocarbon in 2014 and diesel dumping into Sungai Bakau and Sungai Gong in 2013 as reasons for water supply disruptions in Selangor during his leadership. Interestingly, traitor Azmin who defected and joined Muhyiddin is the same man who happily works with Junaidi today. How many illegal factories that polluted the river have been prosecuted? Almost none!

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As of September 2019, the Selangor state government revealed that the state had started programmes to legalise 2,900 illegal factories since 2005 with six extensions. And most of them were located in “three hotspots” – Sungai Buloh, Telok Gong in Klang and Hulu Langat where they could move raw materials or dump wastes into river easily.

Yes, since 2005, before the Selangor falls into opposition Pakatan Rakyat for the first time, thousands of illegal factories were already operating under the nose of Barisan Nasional state and federal government. The factories must get the necessary approvals from the Department of Environment first before they can apply to the local councils for a business license.

Exactly how did those illegal factories get their water supply from Air Selangor, the sole water supplier in Selangor, and electricity from Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the only national power company, in the first place?

The short answer – under table money. The long answer – lack of enforcement, until pollution gets out of control as in the case of Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd.

In reality, all state and federal authorities knew the existence and location of illegal or irresponsible factories that dump toxic wastes into rivers. But at the same time, they are like cash cows that pay bribes so that various government agencies (district councils, police, land office, Air Selangor, Tenaga Nasional, and Department of Environment) would look the other way.

Section 121(1) of the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA) 2006 states that those who contaminate or cause the contamination of a water supply with the intention to cause death, knowing that it could likely cause death or that it would endanger lives, can be sentenced to death if someone dies as a result. Those convicted can also be punished with imprisonment of up to 20 years.

Therefore, there are sufficient laws to punish offenders. But there aren’t any authorities who monitor illegal dumping of waste material. Instead, they work hand-in-glove with the water polluters from time to time. To make matters worse, Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) and National Water Services Commission (SPAN) are very busy – sleeping on the job.

Source : Finance Twitter

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