By Mohd Farhan Darwis
CHERAS, Feb 9 — Selangor is still waiting for Putrajaya's response to the state's 14-day deadline to take over water utility Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today, despite concerns that the state has been dragging its feet on the issue.
On Wednesday, a PKR source told The Malaysian Insider that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is expected to use the issue to attack Selangor's Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration led by Khalid, and they predicted a large-scale sabotage in the Election 2013.
"I'm still waiting for the federal government's reply, I've given them 14 days ... Next week I will announce the measures taken by them," Abdul Khalid (picture) told reporters after launching a road safety campaign in conjunction with the Chinese New Year here.
Treated water supply in the country's most developed state has become major campaign fodder in the run-up to Election 2013 after Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (SYABAS) raised the alarm in 2011 of a possible crisis in the near future due to near-zero reserves at the state's water treatment plants.
Last Wednesday, Abdul Khalid had announced that Selangor plans to take over the water services from SYABAS and other state's concessionaires within 14 days, saying that he wrote a letter to Chin's ministry in relation to the matter.
But he was reported last Saturday as saying that his administration had yet to receive a formal response from Putrajaya over Selangor's plans to buy over SYABAS.
Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Kah Fui had previously said Putrajaya will not block the move.
But Chin, who is the energy, green technology and water minister, said Khalid was barking up the wrong tree by asking the federal government to consider its takeover plans on the state's water services when he should have negotiated directly with the companies instead.
In the midst of the water supply dispute, Najib had last Saturday announced a RM120 million allocation for SYABAS, on top of a total of RM606 million previously allocated to the water utility.
The federal government has insisted that the state's water crisis can be best prevented through the building of the Langat 2 treatment plant, while the Selangor government has protested the multi-billion ringgit plant saying that it is too costly and will not enable it to continue providing cheap water for Selangor residents.
PR, who is in favour of a restructuring of the state's water services industry, had promised domestic consumers free water up to 20 cubic metres on a monthly basis after it took over the Selangor government from BN in Election 2008.
To facilitate the process, Selangor had first mooted the takeover in 2009, offering to buy SYABAS, Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (SPLASH) and Konsortium ABASS at RM5.7 billion. The offer was rejected.
Last year, Khalid was reported to have increased the offer to more than RM9 billion to take over all assets and liabilities of the companies, including their bonds.
The Selangor government has locked horns with the BN federal government and SYABAS, the sole supplier of treated water in the rich state as well as the two neighbouring federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, for the past four years over the Klang Valley's water crisis.
PR parties rule Selangor and control 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in the Federal Territory.