IWK Pollutes Sungei Kayu Ara

Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) now runs advertisements in Malaysian newspapers saying that without it, our daily water supply could be contaminated without it. But IWK itself is a great polluter, as residents in Damansara Utama can tell you. The common septic tank threatened to overflow, IWK informed, and reminded often over a year. It did nothing until it could no longer. Its workers came, punched a hole on the side of the septic tank to allow its contents to overflow into the drains and into Sungei Kayu Ara, a tributary of Sungei Penchala.

Sungei Penchala is, by common official consent, the most polluted river in Selangor. So, in keeping with its commitment to clear water, IWK now pollutes already polluted rivers! When residents pointed this out, IWK said, it could under the law. That this would make the river even more polluted did not bother IWK. IWK told the residents that it does not have the funds to keep septic tanks as clean as it should. But its commitment to clean water is unquestionable, as its right to pollute under the law. Well and good. It does appear that its stock-in-trade had gone into the brains of its senior officials.

It will not address its "customers'" complaints, nor deal with them directly. Would IWK tell us under what law have it acquired all these "customers" without a contract with them? It sends debt collectors to threaten their "customers". I have asked for their legal status and IWK has refused to reply. It meets its "customers" in high profile public meetings where it tells them of its concern for clear water.

Sewage, once a municipal responsibility, was privatised to IWK in 1990, before the general elections, in the rush to privatise government utilities to cronies of the Establishment. That internationally business man of unquestioned repute, Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan, ran with it awhile, threatening people with perdition if they did not allow IWK to extort it. If a business man had tried to collect from me as this internationally known business of unquestioned repute wanted, he would have been sent to jail quick enough extortion. He sold out, and IWK changed hands several times, until it returned into the Ministry of Finance Incorporated. Like every privatisation, it has failed, and miserably, but it allowed the cronies, courtiers of the Establishment to make money.

Since 1990, IWK has not come up with a plan how to bill its "customers". It tried several methods which clearly could not work. It still does not work. It does not send bills, and now send debt collectors to threaten its "customers" to pay out what it did not ask for. IWK would not, indeed cannot, produce the contracts its customers signed for its service. Every other utility and service -- electricity, telephone, water -- IWK "customers" get because it signed for them; they are now told that they have to pay for IWK alleged services without a contract.

That is not on. It should either come clean with under what authority of the law it demands that it be paid, show clear evidence it has contracts with its "customers", and treat its "customers" with respect and tell them precisely why they have to pay, in simple terms, giving them details of its right to collect. Then they would pay. Sending thuggish debt collectors is not the answer. Nor pumping sewage into already polluted rivers.

M.G.G. Pillai 

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