Good governance requires postponement in signing the Selangor water restructuring agreement.

By Charles Santiago, Klang MP

charles santiagoSigning the water agreement in the midst of leadership changes could lead to legitimacy questions.

Anyone following the developments in Selangor will know that Khalid Ibrahim is, at best, a caretaker Menteri Besar.

His resignation has been accepted by the Sultan, who has however asked him to stay on till a replacement is found.

Therefore, my question is whether a care-taker MB, working with a skeletal state cabinet, can sign a deal worth RM 9.65 billion especially given the huge financial and other implications for the state?

Media reports suggest the final agreement on the water restructuring exercise is scheduled to be signed by the end of this week.

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.

As such, the federal government should not hastily rush into signing the final agreement on the water restructuring exercise in Selangor.

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

The incoming leadership should be allowed to take ownership of the final agreement since they will be held responsible in implementing the various undertakings and financial commitments, including the proposed tariff increase in the coming years.

Selangor’s new leadership should not be put in a difficult position especially if there are court challenges on the legitimacy of the water restructuring exercise.

Furthermore, the signing of the agreement can be put on hold given the on-going negotiations between the federal government and water treatment operator, Splash.

And if the Federal government agrees to a ‘replacement cost’ to up the RM 250 million Selangor’s compensation offer vis-à-vis Splash, the state might be forced to re-look the RM 9.65 billion commitment, which may entail a rewriting of the yet to be inked water restructuring agreement.

So why rush to conclude an incomplete agreement?

Clearly, more work needs to be done including restoring political and moral legitimacy in the leadership of the state.

Thus the Federal government has to postpone signing on the dotted lines to some point in the next months, in the interest of the people of Selangor.


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