Khalid: Don’t shoot your mouth off

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KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has told Charles Santiago to stop “shooting his mouth off” after the Member of Parliament (MP) for Klang questioned whether the final water deal should be inked, given that the Selangor menteri besar (MB) is now in a caretaker capacity after his resignation on Aug 26.

“I don’t think he (Santiago) understands … My understanding is that professionals should check their facts first before making statements. If not, then we are not ... helping the community and ... nation,” Abdul Khalid told a press conference after chairing the weekly state executive council meeting yesterday.

“He keeps shooting his mouth off here and there, not adding any value. Even though he appears busy, he is not giving any benefit to the people,” Abdul Khalid said.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Santiago wrote that signing the Selangor water restructuring agreement in the midst of leadership changes could lead to legitimacy questions.

He questioned whether a caretaker MB can sign a deal worth RM9.65 billion with the federal government to take over the operation of the state’s water concessionaires, especially given the huge financial and other implications for the state.

The federal government is expected to seal the final agreement to restructure the water industry in the state with the Selangor government tomorrow, said Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

This is despite growing concerns over Abdul Khalid’s legitimacy as Selangor MB.

“He (Abdul Khalid) is still the menteri besar,” Mahdzir told reporters after opening the Asean Power Week conference and exhibition for the electric power generation industry here yesterday.

He was commenting on whether the signed agreement will be recognised after a change in Selangor’s administration.

On Aug 26, Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah consented to Abdul Khalid relinquishing his position as menteri besar, but was told to stay on until a replacement was found.

Mahdzir, however, kept mum when asked about the fate of Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) — the only one of four water concessionaires in the state which turned down the offer to sell its assets to the Selangor government.

The three other concessionaires that have agreed to Selangor’s takeover offer are Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd and its 70%-owned subsidiary Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd, and Konsortium ABASS Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Abdul Khalid said the Selangor government is still finalising the master agreement to restructure the water industry in the state, which involves various government agencies, that would put “everything in the implementation mode”.

“We are still finalising it [the agreement]. Our target is this week, or not later than Monday or Tuesday next week. But I think we are targeting ... [it to be] within this week,” said Abdul Khalid.

He explained that there will be many agreements between various government agencies and as such, there will be a master agreement that will put everything in the implementation mode and not only in the discussion stage.

“A lot of agencies will be part of the arrangement, including the Water Asset Management Co and the National Water Services Commission, as well as agencies such as the Selangor Water Management Authority.

“I think it’s putting everybody, everything in line. Once we sign the master agreement, everything is in the implementation mode,” Abdul Khalid said.

He also said the status of Splash will be announced when the master agreement is signed.

Last week, Abdul Khalid was reported as saying that the federal and Selangor governments will seal the water agreement this week at the latest.

The agreement would enable the state to take over the operations of the four water concessionaires in the state.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 11, 2014.