WATER WATCH PENANG (WWP) views Kedah’s plan to build 14 water tanks along the Sungai Muda to ensure there is enough water for Kedahans and paddy farmers along the river (FMT March 24, 2021) as ill-conceived, unlawful, and endangering the livelihood of all Penangites and Penang’s economy. Although the Kedah government’s plan appears to ensure water security to Kedahans and its paddy farmers, there is no denying that this plan will drastically reduce water supply in Penang as the quantity and quality of water flowing into Penang in the Sungai Muda would be significantly reduced. Hence, this outrageous plan has been described as an “act of war” and a form of political vengeance “To ‘throttle’ Penang water supply” by some politicians/leaders.
As the Menteri Besar of Kedah, and Chairman of Syarikat Air Darul Aman, two highly acclaimed and respected positions, the MB must speak, act and carry himself with the highest respect and responsibility. He must negotiate, work-out and propose workable plans and solutions with his counterparts in other states when issues arise, and not approach anything in a confrontational way. All words, actions and suggestions by the MB must not only be good and beneficial to the people of Kedah, but also must not harm, endanger or cause any potential hazard to anyone or any state. We strongly believe the MB of Kedah is a respectable leader with equally high responsibility, and will act in a responsible manner.
As a water NGO that works on water issues in the country, WWP views the current water dispute between Kedah and Penang as escalating towards dangerous territory. This spat between the two states will not benefit anyone, but will bring disaster to all. WWP appeals to the MB of Kedah to immediately cancel this plan to build the 14 water tanks before it is too late. In the past, WWP has thanked the Kedah State Government for its promise not to issue any new logging concessions and its stand to continue the previous Kedah State Government’s policy to Protect the Ulu Muda Forests (Main water catchment for the three northern peninsula states of Kedah, Perlis and Penang). We hope the MB will also heed our appeal this time to shelf this current plan. Although based in Penang, WWP is working on various national and inter-state water issues for the protection of water resources and its sustainability. WWP would like to applaud the Kedah Menteri Besar, YAB Haji Muhammad Sanusi Md. Nor and the Kedah State Government if these 14 water tanks plan is cancelled. The Sg Muda supplies drinking water to more than 4 million people in the three states of Kedah, Perlis and Penang.
WWP believes no issue is unsolvable. This water issue between Kedah and Penang should be taken up by the National Water Resources Council or KASA or SPAN and work out a solution. Forming a Muda River Basin Council may be another solution.
Professor Dr Chan Ngai Weng
Water Watch Penang
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