SELANGOR, Oct 16 – Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamad Azmin Ali today said he is seeking Putrajaya’s permission to disclose to the public the agreements signed between the federal and state governments in the state’s water restructuring exercise.
Reiterating his call to the federal government to allow full disclosure of the agreements, Azmin said he has written to the Energy, Green Technology and Water minister urging that the contracts, which are currently under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, be made public. “I wrote the minister last week as soon as I received the three agreements on behalf of the state government. I asked for his permission to disclose the agreements to the public because there is nothing to hide in the agreements,” he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby.
“This is in line with what (former finance minister) Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah) said today about the OSA. That this law protects cheating and mismanagement.” Tengku Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, said earlier today that the OSA must be reviewed as it has “hidden thousands of sins”. “Even reporters who discover something about the government cannot expose it. Even if you had a document in your hand, you could be jailed for seven years under the OSA.
“If the issue involved corruption, I think anyone who wants to see the country become clean should be allowed to expose it,” the veteran Umno leader said, adding that Malaysians should not have to wait for a minister or a court order to declassify documents related to public interest. Azmin also said that he wanted to ensure that the state’s role in the joint committee between Putrajaya and Selangor was more than just overseeing the progress and the development of the Langat 2 project.
“But we also want to make sure that the state government has an executive to give feedback because in the first phase of the project, we missed the opportunity to do so under the previous administration. “The contract was given to a few companies which have proposed specifications that are excessive and for things that we have no need of for the treatment plant,” he added.
Azmin, who is also Gombak MP, had earlier told Parliament the companies had proposed the use of granular activated carbon (GAC) filter for the Langat 2 treatment plant, which was expensive and only used to treat very polluted water. “The GAC is a high-tech equipment only used when the water pollution is at level 4.
“The question is, does this mean that the raw water being supplied from Pahang is badly polluted and if that is the case, why is polluted water being supplied to the people of Selangor?” he said. However, he said that based on information he has received, the water from Pahang is not polluted, which raises doubts as to why the GAC filter was to be used.
“They have to clarify and justify why they decided to use this very high-tech equipment. Because if this what they have agreed on, the development cost for the project will be high. “When the cost to fulfil the technology criteria is high, to maintain it will also be high. In the end, if you include the development, operational and maintenance costs, it will be transferred to the consumers through higher water tariff,” he said.
The state government, he said, will not allow this to happen in Phase 2 of the Langat 2 project. “This is why we want power to give our opinions and there won’t be an ‘over-design’ to keep costs down,” he said, adding that Putrajaya should ensure that every contractor in the project was appointed through open tender. At this point, Tanjung Karang MP Datuk Seri Noh Omar, who is also Selangor Umno chief, interjected and asked the menteri besar if the state would stop the project if Putrajaya did not agree to their demands.
“Why wouldn’t the federal government agree with a good proposal that will benefit the people of Selangor? The answer is, the federal government wants to protect the ‘tauke’ and not the people of Selangor,” Azmin shot back. “The issue of water is important. I want to say in the House that this is important. The interests of the people are important. But do not continue to press the people just to protect the big ‘tauke’.”