The Selangor Government Should Think Creatively To Solve Water Crises

Pemuda PSM is concerned by the recurring water supply disruption occurring in Selangor. It is a strange norm of Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia, to be facing such a crippling issue. As PAS have pointed out, in 2020 alone, Selangor has faced 5 such disruptions, from either odour or chemical spillage problems.

The Member of Parliament for Klang, Charles Santiago, has been vocal in painting the most recent disruption as a pollution problem and has asked for the Minister of Environment and Water, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, to resign if the Federal Government does not sue the factory which caused the pollution. We appreciate the MP’s passion but would like to point out two facts.

One, Tuan Ibrahim is from PAS, the ruling party of Kelantan. Evidently, their management of water supply in that state has been dismal and they only project 90% of the state to receive clean water by 2030. He is hardly a person to count on and YB Charles’ ultimatum seems only to be a political stunt. This is not to absolve the minister from his responsibilities. If sufficient action is not taken to bolster our environmental laws, Pemuda PSM would agree that his head must roll. However, we lack faith any significant change would be achieved by said minister.

Two, Selangor has been held by Pakatan Harapan for over a decade and water supply falls under the purview of the state. Moreover, the water supply issue has been recurring for years now without much intervention by the state tovernment. Hence, the issue is not simply one of pollution, it is a larger problem of access to water. By now, there should have been some alternative projects to supplement the main water supply for Selangorians.

Pemuda PSM, in an effort to assist the government, would like to suggest the Selangor state government to introduce a subsidy scheme for Selangor residents to install rainwater catchment systems in their homes. Each household can voluntarily apply to have a rainwater catchment system installed their home to have a decentralised water supply supporting the main one.

This system can either be in the form of a standalone tank beside each house (provided there’s enough land) or be connected directly to the internal water tanks of each house (for terraced and high-rise housing). Care must be taken so that there is sufficient filtration and treatment for the water caught and the risk of overspills are mitigated, especially for indoor systems. If possible, state-government-owned buildings with large roof areas should be used for community water harvesting at a residential area level.

This is especially important for certain groups particularly at risk as UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller, had identified. These include Orang Asli, population affected by megaprojects such as large-scale dams, population living in informal settlements, refugees, asylum seekers, transgenders, gender non-conforming individuals and East Malaysians.

Pemuda PSM believe water is the right of every citizen, thus empowering every citizen with proper means of obtain safe, clean water at all times should be the responsibility of the state government especially when there is uncertainty on the part of the Federal government.

Arveent Kathirtchelvan
Head of the Science and Technology Bureau
Pemuda PSM

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