Water deal set to be inked between Putrajaya and Selangor may be illegal, says DAP

-A +A

(September 11): Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should advise Putrajaya that the water deal set to be finalised between the federal government and Selangor this week may be illegal, said an opposition lawmaker.

DAP Klang MP Charles Santiago reiterated that embattled Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is a caretaker MB and as such, should not be signing the water contract or any other contracts dealing with any of the state assets.

"Any third party who therefore enters into such contracts should take notice that a new state government may take the position that such contracts are not legally binding.

"Given the severity of this issue, the A-G should advise the federal government that the final water restructuring agreement, scheduled to be signed Friday, might be illegal," he said in a statement today.

Charles had on Tuesday called for Putrajaya to postpone signing the final agreement to restructure water services in Malaysia's richest state, saying Khalid was a caretaker MB after his resignation was deferred pending the Selangor Sultan’s decision on a new MB.

"Signing the agreement in the midst of a change in administration could lead to questions of moral and legal legitimacy, especially since there has hardly been any openness and transparency in the negotiations so far," he had said.

"It should, instead, wait for the new Selangor leadership to be sworn in, in the interest of good governance and accountability."

Khalid shot back by saying Charles knew nothing and should check his facts before making any statements on the water restructuring deal.

"He doesn’t know, just like he doesn’t know about the poisoned water in the mining pond,” Khalid told reporters yesterday.

"My understanding is that professionals check their facts first before making statements. If not, then we are not regarded as helping the community and the nation.

"(He is) just shooting his mouth here and there, not adding any value. Even though he appears busy, he is not giving any benefit to the rakyat."

Charles said today Khalid should not take any potshots or make any "lame accusations" at him since it would further undermine the two-term MB's position.

Citing the 2010 Federal Court verdict on the Perak constitutional crisis, he said Khalid's current status was now even weaker than that of a caretaker MB.

He said the judgment was a clear reminder that an MB who lost majority support also lost the legitimacy to govern.

"As such, Khalid should not be signing the water contract or any other contracts dealing with any of the state assets," he added.

Yesterday, Energy, Green Technology and Water Deputy Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, said the deal would be signed tomorrow, despite an impending change in the MB post.

Asked if there was a "Plan B" should the dealings be delayed by the appointment of a new MB, Mahdzir said no alternatives had been planned for now.

Khalid was expelled from PKR last month after he refused to heed a party directive to vacate the MB seat for Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

On August 1, Selangor and Putrajaya signed the heads of government agreement that sealed the exercise.

Under the deal, Putrajaya will assist Selangor in de-privatising the industry and returning it to state control, while Selangor is to approve Putrajaya's RM3.6 billion Langat 2 water treatment plant project.

But PKR and DAP were unhappy with the wording of the agreements, saying while there were binding commitments from Selangor towards Putrajaya, they lacked guarantees that the operations of the industry would return permanently to public hands.

The master agreement to be signed tomorrow details all steps taken by Putrajaya and Selangor to de-privatise the industry.

Selangor is also expected to sign agreements to buy over control in three of the four companies that currently treat and distribute a significant amount of the 3.9 billion litres a day that is used by about 7 million people.

The three are Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syabas and Abass, which will be taken over by state-owned Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad.