U.S. Water News Online
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's water supply and
services are set to undergo major reforms under two proposed laws but
the government has assured that foreigners will not be given control
of the industry, a newspaper report said.
Under the proposed 2006 National Water Services Commission Bill
and Water Services Industry Bill, which are expected to be debated in
parliament soon, control of all water departments in the country's 13
states will be given to the federal government. Water resources
currently come under state jurisdiction.
The move followed frequent complaints of muddy drinking water
supply to homes in some areas as well as irregular delivery,
including in the most developed state of Selangor as well as in rural
Sabah state on Borneo island.
However, consumer activists and opposition lawmakers have
expressed concerns that the bills could eventually put control and
ownership of water supply in the hands of foreigners, and make water
rates more expensive.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Lim Keng Yaik assured
critics that Malaysia would not liberalize the water industry as it
was considered a basic utility and would not be opened to
"Malaysia will not make a liberalization commitment in the World
Trade Organization for water supply and water services," he was
quoted as saying by The Star.
Lim said the move was targeted at improving services and helping
states with water supply infrastructure.
He revealed that state governments now owed a massive 7.6 billion
ringgit (US$2.1 billion, euro1.8 billion) to the federal government
in loans for water-related projects such as laying of water pipes,
construction of treatment plants and setting up catchment areas.
"The federal government has stopped giving out such loans," he
"The rationale for introducing the bills is to ensure quality and
reliability where water supplies are concerned. We want to ensure the
industry is regulated and that consumers enjoy better services," he
Lim and his aides could not be reached for further comments.
The opposition Democratic Action Party has called for a review of
the two bills to ensure that consumer's rights to affordable water
are protected, and that there would be no backdoor provision for any
privatization of water services.
"There are no guarantees there will be increased efficiency, costs
and quality of water supply," the party's secretary-general Lim Guan
Eng told the Associated Press. "How can we attract investors
confidence in our economic development if we can not even guarantee
regular supply of clean water?"
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