Water deal is irrevocable and binding, says Selangor leader

File photo of a man filling up bottles with water in Banting, Kuala Langat, Selangor.

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - The legitimacy of the deal inked between the Federal Government and Selangor government on the restructuring of the state's water industry should not be questioned, said Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

He said the deal, which was signed on Wednesday, was timely as the people were experiencing a serious water shortage.

Tengku Adnan said the legality of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) should not be questioned as it was signed by the Selangor menteri besar and the energy, water and green technology minister.

"How can the opposition say that it is not legally binding when it was signed by (Tan Sri) Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and (Datuk Seri) Dr Maximus Ongkili?

"They are just twisting and turning their words," he said responding to criticisms by several quarters in the opposition that the MoU signed was not binding.

Instead, he said, Khalid should be congratulated for taking the initiative to settle a problem that had been delayed for years and which had affected millions of Klang Valley residents who are now experiencing serious water shortage.

"He (Khalid) is aware that if the agreement is not signed, it will have a huge impact on the people."

Meanwhile, Khalid said the government would proceed with the construction of the Langat 2 water treatment plant despite criticism from party members on the restructuring exercise.

"The MoU between the federal and state government is irrevocable and binding on both parties. We adhere to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's call for the MoU to be respected and regarded as a commitment.

"We are committed to deliver the best value for money services and are working towards realising our goal to end the state's water crisis," he said after launching the state Silat Fair here yesterday.

"We made a commitment and have reached an understanding (with the Federal Government) that the state government will allow for the construction of the Langat 2 water treatment plant in return for the restructuring exercise."

Khalid said the federal and state governments had stated their stand on the water restructuring exercise, adding the state government was given the assurance that it would be involved in the final decision-making of the exercise.

He was responding to criticism by certain PKR leaders who said they were not informed about the MoU between the state and federal governments.

PKR Strategic director Rafizi Ramli had questioned the legitimacy of the MoU and claimed that he had no prior knowledge of the collaboration between the state and federal governments.

He had said Khalid had failed to inform the party about the MoU.

Khalid said the state government's plan to offer shares in the water industry to the people of Selangor would proceed after the restructuring exercise was completed.

"A promise is a promise and we will deliver on it when the time is right.

"For now, I cannot give an estimated time because we are in the initial process of restructuring."

Under the MoU, the state government will take over Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd and Konsortium ABBAS Sdn Bhd for RM9.65 billion.

In return, the state government will issue a development order for the construction of the Langat 2 water treatment plant and its distribution system and ensure all approvals and authorisation for the project are approved within 30 days.

Veteran lawyer Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said the contract signed between the two governments could not be revoked by either party as it would be tantamount to a breach of contract.

He said the Federal Government could sue if a new menteri besar nullified the agreement upon taking over the state government.

"The contract was made between two governments that are two big entities, not individuals.

"Therefore, it doesn't give anyone the right to cancel the agreement once it becomes a contract, without facing a legal charge," he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Puncak Niaga executive chairman Tan Sri Rozali Ismail welcomed the signing of the MoU, saying it was a smart way to address chronic water supply woes in the Klang Valley.

"The Federal Government is committed to finding the best way out and help the people.

"This (water shortage) problem has to be solved as soon as possible so that the people can enjoy the best water supply," he said after speaking at the Superbike Basic Safety Course programme at Dataran Puncak Alam here yesterday. Additional reporting by Syafiq Aznan and Firdaous Fadzil.