Water supply disruption: The lack of accountability and responsibility — Dharm Navaratnam

OCTOBER 19 — How many water cuts do residents in Selangor and KL have to face before something is done? In September, water was disrupted due to odour pollution. A few days ago, there was a burst water pipe. This was quickly followed by another disruption due to water pollution. Again.

What is going on? Who is to be held accountable for this? No one seems to be taking accountability for any of this. It seems far easier to just point fingers and say that it is someone else’s problem. To me, there are a few parties that are jointly and severally responsible and accountable for this issue. These parties include the Ministry of Environment and Water, Air Selangor and the Selangor Government. There may of course be more parties involved.

If pollution is indeed the cause of this, then where is the enforcement? What is the Ministry of Environment and Water doing to address this? What plans are in place to mitigate this from happening next week, next month or tomorrow even? All we hear are statements that the ministry is working really hard and will not compromise or taking action. And this will be the same story if it happens again.

Unless I am wrong, water falls under both Federal and State law under the Concurrent List as defined in the Constitution so the State Goverment is equally complicit.

As far as Air Selangor and the Selangor Government is concerned, water disruptions have been happening for the last 30 years if not longer. Have any contingency plans been put into place to circumvent these disruptions? Are there plans in place where water can be rerouted to other treatment plants or redistributed from other raw water sources to prevent disruptions or at least to ensure uninterrupted water supply? If memory serves me correctly, the Pahang-Selangor raw water mega project was completed in 2015. Has this not helped in any way?

What policies and regulations have been put into place to ensure proper and uninterrupted water supply? Is enforcement being adequately done? As it is, many areas in KL and Selangor get filthy water and need water filters to be installed outside the premises. What is being done about this? At least filthy water is better than no water.

I also take issue with the statements on Threshold Odour Number that Air Selangor seems to promulgate as a means to justify the water disruptions. Air Selangor say that they will only allow water treatment plants to operate once the Threshold Odour Number (TON) is measured at 0. According to the United Kingdom-based Water Research Center, as well as many other sites that you can read up on, the TON of pollutant in water can be determined by adding a volume of unpolluted water into a volume of polluted water, and then divide the total volume by the volume of polluted water. So, in essence the mathematical equation of this would be (A+B)/A. Anyone with a basic grasp in Maths can tell you that you cannot get 0 from the above equation and the smallest number you would ever get would be 1. So how does a TON measurement of 0 come about? Maybe in my old age, my Math is not as strong as it used to be. Maybe Air Selangor has a different way of calculating this. If this is so I would like to get clarification in the form of an explanation from Air Selangor.

While water, or the lack of it, may be the major grouse for those in the Klang Valley at this moment, there are other important issues facing the country as a whole. it is really the fact that no one in power seems to want to take responsibility and accountability.

It is far easier to deflect and point fingers, it seems easier to just say one thing and do another or “cakap tak serupa bikin”.

We have a PM that says that double standards are not practiced. Really? Did a minister not visit you in your home while you were supposedly under Self Quarantine? Why was that allowed? Has another minister not been charged yet for breaking and ignoring quarantine? All this is allowed to go on while the common rakyat is slapped with fines every day? A Senior Minister gleefully announces each day how many of the rakyat were fined or arrested for violations of the CMCO or RMCO but what about those in power that ignore the rules? We are told to stay at home as far as possible but we hear of many meetings being planned to be held. Are the rakyat the only one supposed to heed the CMCO?

We are told that we need a strong and stable government in this time of crisis. Yet, there is infighting within the government itself. Jostling and posturing for more important posts, squabbling, threats and demands while trying to get or stay in power? Is it not true that most of our already inflated cabinet seem to be incognito as well? After all, no one seems to hear very much from them. Is our country running on autopilot with the seeming silence from most of our ministers? Sadly, when most of them do turn up, they seem to take a misstep or make a ‘faux pas’. We don’t have to look far. The last-minute postponement of registration for university students, Smoking in parliament, Doraemon and all sorts of other fiascos.

We were given excuses that self-quarantine was not required for those returning from Sabah as contact tracing was in effect. Wonder of wonders, Covid infections spiked after the Sabah Elections and the blame was placed on us, the rakyat.

So, while the rakyat is told to toe the line and risk getting the ‘rotan’, those in power seem to get away with all sorts of things. All we get is a sorry from those concerned. I can’t wait for the ‘sorry’ to come out from those concerned with the current water crisis. I’m also sorry but saying sorry is just not enough. To quote an old childhood saying, “Sorry no cure” We the rakyat expect more. Much more.

Accountability and responsibility. Two simple words that seem to have no meaning anymore. Don’t know what to do to be accountable and responsible? It’s simple. Resign or at least offer to resign. There are many of you who know you should. You are all just too ensconced in your place of privilege.

Gravely worrying indeed and when you look at it in this light, the lack of water in the Klang Valley may perhaps seem to be the least of our problems right now.

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

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