KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia --The sports minister has called on Malaysians to understand that millions of gallons of water are needed to test an Olympic- sized swimming pool, even as they undergo severe water rationing. Sports Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said organizers of the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Kuala Lumpur in September, must use at least 12 million liters (3 million gallons) of water to test a new swimming facility for the games.
``Once the tests are completed, it is all right for water to be rationed,'' Muhyiddin was quoted as saying in a recent edition of The Star newspaper. With reservoirs critically low, nearly 2 million people in the capital and surrounding Klang Valley have been hit with massive water cuts that could last through October.
Muhyiddin, who said he ``understood the predicament of the people,'' expressed confidence Malaysians would understand the importance of preparing successful games. For a month, 600,000 residents of the capital have had water only intermittently; another 1.2 million Klang Valley residents were put on strict rationing recently. The cuts have forced people with buckets to wait in the streets for water trucks to pass by.
Residents are concerned, however, that the water is unsafe to drink. Much of what comes out of the trucks and the taps, when the water mains are turned on, is yellow. Health experts have advised Malaysians to store their drinking water in white containers, where algae, possibly containing bacteria, can easily be spotted.
Health Minister Chua Jui Meng said patients at Seremban Hospital south of the capital were transferred over the weekend when the hospital's water supply dried up. ``It should not have happened,'' Chua said, stressing hospitals should be given priority. The state's water authorities have vowed to divert up to 70 percent of the water supply to hospitals, insisting that hospitals and fire departments were exempt from rationing.
Water authorities have blamed the water shortage on lack of rain and heavy consumer demand on water reserves. Politicians and citizens blame one another for mismanagement and wasteful practices.
``We are very concerned about what has happened ... (but) blame should be accepted by all quarters, not just us,'' said Selangor Chief Minister Abu Hassan Omar, whose administration is charged with distributing water to 3 million residents in Klang Valley. (AP)
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