KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — PAS needs to stop blaming others for Kelantan's long-standing water problems and just buckle down to fix them, Datuk Husam Musa, chairman of non-governmental organisation Save Kelantan, said in an interview with The Malaysian Insight (TMI).
The former Kelantan lawmaker said the water crisis in the north-eastern state isn't due to a matter of a lack of money, but a misuse of funds.
"When the water treatment plant was built, the supply couldn’t reach the people. That’s what happened in the Teluk village. After an injection of RM4.82 million, the plant should produce 32 million litres of water a day. But today it can only get out 10 million litres of water a day.
"What we want to know is, why haven’t the people got water supply? This is what we want to investigate. The people of Kelantan should be given an explanation," Husam told the news portal in an interview published today.
According to the former PAS politician, Kelantan's water problems began in the 1990s after the state government fully privatised its supply to Kelantan Air Sdn Bhd (AKSB) at a cost of RM100 million annually.
The high cost prompted former Kelantan mentri besar, the late Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, to return the company to the state government and change its status to a corporation, Husam claimed.
"Kelantan's water supply was frozen by the federal government in the 1990s because the Kelantan government privatised the water supply to AKSB under a foreign company in London, Thames Water PLC.
"It was originally thought the company would build the water infrastructure. But many do not know do not know that in the first year, Thames Water sent a bill claiming RM100 million a year from the state government," Husam told TMI.
Husam blamed Thames Water for the monetary losses suffered by the Kelantan government.
"Amar was on the board and when we did an internal audit on their claims, we found that they had been approved by the Kelantan Water Board.
"Their foreign manager had gone to Thailand for a weekend holiday, and this was billed as expenses.
"This matter is rarely mentioned but I have to remind them so that they are aware and do not run away from the facts,” he was quoted saying.
Husam was referring to Deputy Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Abdullah, which TMI reported had blamed the previous Umno government for the state's water supply problems.
According to the report, Amar announced the cancellation of a RM600 million Kelantan water supply project after Umno lost to PAS in the 1990 general election.
Husam told TMI that the state repeatedly failed to regain ownership of AKSB as the water company was owned by a foreign entity at that time; even though it had meetings with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he was prime minister the first time, back in 1999 and 2000 to get approval for the RM600 million grant.
The PAS-led state government only succeeded in 2001 and put AKSB under the ownership of the Kelantan Menteri Besar Corporation (PMBK).
Husam told TMI that in the same year, then finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin handed him a cheque of RM600 million for the mentri besar to develop Kelantan's water infrastructure.
"He [Daim] said that previously we couldn’t get the grants because of other issues and not because the government was trying to bully them," Husam was quoted saying.
Husam believed that Amar knew about this because at the time, Amar was a board member of Yayasan Kelantan Darulnaim, a foundation that owned 30 per cent of AKSB.