Privatisation has been a major agenda of the world since its introduction more than 20 years ago by the world’s capitalist super powers, the United States and Britain. This policy was introduced by two countries which practice capitalism, namely U.S. president Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. With the support of organisations like the World Bank, the International Fund, IMF and Asian Development Bank, the basis of this success has given big benefits to the governments including in terms of revenue and political strength. Privatisation is a political and economic phenomenon which is implemented for the moving of interests or certain investments of the government to the private sector. Thus, the power to make decisions is shifted from the hands of the public to the private or new owners of the public organisation.
Malaysia became one of the first countries to implement this policy under the administration of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Among the privatised public companies since the 1980s include Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Telekom Malaysia. As of late, the government also intends to privatise water in Selangor to SYABAS. The Selangor water privatisation process to SYABAS has triggered a reaction from various parties including the state government, political parties and also the community. The federal government's decision to privatise the water supply of Selangor to SYABAS has become a hot issue because it involves the welfare of the people of Selangor, especially those around Selangor, Klang Valley and Putrajaya.
Basically, I think that privatisation is one of the government’s measures to boost the country’s revenues. This is because privatisation is seen as a transitional monopoly to the private sector to maximize profits. However from another angle, it will give a big impact to the community when privatisation is done to benefit certain parties only. In this case, the transparency of the government in implementing these policies will indeed affect the prosperity and welfare of the citizens.
I do not agree with the proposed privatisation of water in Selangor if the reason given is because the government had to shoulder huge losses due to wastage and the attitude of those who fail to pay the water bills. The reason given is unreasonable, because I see that these things are associated with the management. Weaknesses of previous management had affected the welfare of the people of Selangor. Thus, the government should strengthen and improve the efficiency of water management system rather than continue to privatise straight to SYABAS.
I view that this Selangor water privatisation policy would have an adverse impact on the community, especially those who are of the middle and lower income groups. High water rates after the privatisation will burden this group, where they have to bear high costs for water supply. In addition, those who will be affected and having to bear the direct impact of this policy are people who are unimportant in the government or the ruling coalition. They are ordinary people who do not have a high position but have to bear high costs to attain the services. Privatisation of water obviously gives bad implications for the welfare of the people especially the poor and lower income groups.
As a Malaysian who cares and will receive the impact of this privatisation policy, I urge for the government to withdraw and review the proposals to privatise water in Selangor to SYABAS. What is more important is that the government should strive to improve the efficiency of administration and management of the department which includes improving infrastructure and related facilities. Transparent management and efficient monitoring will ensure the welfare and a quality service to citizens. Implementation of any government policy requires a careful balancing of benefits to the government and the people so that all parties are protected and not exploited solely to benefit certain parties.
MUHAMMAD FIRWAN NORLIZA,
STUDENTS’ REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL,
INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA 2009/2010