Selangor water crisis: Heads must roll — Jeremy Tiew

DECEMBER 23 — For the first time in recent memory, I was not able to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival properly on December 22 no thanks to the unscheduled water cut following the closure of the Semenyih water treatment plant.

My family and I value our Chinese heritage and we make it a point to celebrate the festival each year by making glutinous rice balls. For some Chinese, the Winter Solstice Festival is an even more important date than the Chinese New Year. Our celebrations this year in our Petaling Jaya home has been ruined as taps ran dry.

We can understand if Air Selangor wants to conduct periodic maintenance or even if this was an one-off occurrence due to unforeseen mishap. But the unscheduled and prolonged cuts have been so frequent, one cannot help but to attribute it to Air Selangor's pure incompetence.

Water is a basic necessity. For a country on the cusps of attaining developed nation status, having the critical supply cut off at irregular intervals makes us the butt of jokes. To make matters worse, given how frequent such cuts occur, one would have thought that Air Selangor would have a well thought-out contingency plan for such crises.

Alas, water tankers were not deployed fast enough, as victims fume over such blatant disregard for their welfare.

In most other countries, a crisis of such magnitude occurring so frequently would have seen heads roll. But in Malaysia, Air Selangor, and by extension the Selangor government, are more interested in blaming others.

As the legal custodian of water supply, Air Selangor and the Selangor Menteri Besar should own up to any shortcomings. Water supply falls under the state's jurisdiction and there is only so much the Federal government can do to alleviate this.

For example, water tariffs are determined by the respective state governments. But if the Selangor government continues to have reservations about increasing tariffs for political reasons, then it would have insufficient funds to carry out maintenance or carry out long-term water supply plans.

As of now, many households in Selangor are not paying a single sen for their water supply. I am sure many would not mind paying a nominal sum just to ensure continuous water supply.

The Selangor government and Air Selangor need to get their house in order to ensure taps continue to flow. Otherwise, we'd be back to square one in no time. If the Menteri Besar does not crack the whip, then we'd just have to flush out the government come the next general election.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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