PETALING JAYA: A proposal to have the federal government take charge of water supply management in the country has gained wider support.
A lawyer and an environmentalist said it would help to address all issues that have plagued the water supply sector over the years.
Lawyer Datuk Kamaruddin Ahmad told theSun that the federal government is in a better position to counter water issues compared with states.
“The federal government can better coordinate supply and demand needs. Furthermore, the National Land Code gives the federal government more power over such matters than what individual states get from their respective land codes.
“This includes the power to gazette land and turn rivers into protected areas.”
Kamaruddin was commenting on reports in theSun last Thursday and Friday that highlighted the tiff between Penang and Kedah over water from Sungai Muda and calls for the country’s water supply to be managed by the federal government.
Kuala Langat MP Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar said Parliament could pass a legislation to hand power over water management to the federal government.
In response to Jayakumar’s proposal, Kamaruddin pointed out that in areas such as management of natural resources, the power of states is already duplicated in the National Land Code that ascribe the same power to the federal government.
“It makes sense to have one entity (to manage everything).”
Currently, rivers are managed by local authorities, but not a single department is accountable if there are pollutants, as it happened in Sungai Kim Kim, in Johor, in 2019, he said.
Exposure to pollutants left 129 fishermen and a child suffering from myokymia, a condition that leaves parts of the body trembling.
Environmentalist Andrew Sebastian said under the current arrangement, rivers have been overlooked and undervalued as a life-giving resource “for too long now”.
Sebastian, who is chief executive officer at Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia, said more serious efforts should be made to ensure that rivers are appreciated.