Perak passes new Bill on water resources

IPOH: The new Water Resources Enactment has been passed at the Perak state legislative assembly.

Some 30 assemblymen from the government voted in favour of the enactment during the sitting on Wednesday (Sept 27).

Two other assemblymen, Nga Kor Ming (PH-Kepayang) and Datuk Mohd Zolkafly Harun (BN-Lintang) were not present, as Nga as a Local Government Minister had official matters to attend to, while Mohd Zolkafly was hospitalised.

The enactment would replace the Water Enactment passed before Independence and the Coastal Management Enactment gazetted in 2016.

The enactment was tabled on Monday (Sept 25) by state water committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

In his winding up speech, Mohammad Nizar said the enactment would cover three main issues: governance of the water resources management board, control of water resources use and licensing, and lastly pollution control and enforcement.

On the management board, he said it would consist of 12 members including the chairman.

Assemblymen from the Opposition pact had asked for the enactment to be deferred to make amendments to the Bill.

Since the start of the sitting on Monday, several Opposition assemblymen have been concerned about several matters pertaining to the enactment.

Opposition leader Razman Zakaria told a press conference that they expressed their view to postpone the enactment to ensure accountability and continuity of governance.

“We urge that the state government include the provision that the Mentri Besar be made chairman of the board, as well as six experts from the relevant agencies as members, as stipulated under Section 6(1) of the enactment.

“For the purpose of ensuring food security, the Opposition also urges that an exemption provision be included in the irrigation sector for the rice cultivation as implemented in Kedah and Terengganu in accordance with the Irrigation Areas 1953.

“Based on this, the Opposition insists that this enactment be postponed,” he said.

A press conference by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad was held shortly after that.

Saarani said that the Bill was first tabled by him on July 18 last year, but decided to postpone it after taking into account the views of several assemblymen at that time who suggested that the Bill be refined and improved.

“Following that, a bi-partisan committee consisting of 10 assemblymen was established in addition to four engagement sessions with various parties held to ensure that every point of view, and criticism submitted is taken into account, refined and harmonised before being brought back to the august House.

“So this enactment presented has gone through an improvement process through seven amendments including matters of jurisdiction and the members of the board of management, imposition of charges, enforcement as well as matters related to public interest.

“Therefore, the state government is of the view that the opposition’s proposal to postpone the Bill once again should not have arisen considering that all issues mentioned before have been refined and improved,” he added.

Saarani said that the state government took the decision that the enactment needed to be approved since without a specific body for water management, it prevents monitoring of the use of state water resources from being optimised, especially from the aspect of licensing and enforcement.

Asked why the enactment did not specify that the Mentri Besar be appointed as the chairman of the board, Saarani said the appointment will be decided by the state exco.

“We left it open, as we do not want to be tied down to just the Mentri Besar being the chairman, as there may be other experts in the field.

“But the appointment for the post is decided by the state executive council, which usually appoints the Mentri Besar for the post,” he added.

On concerns by the Opposition about the possibility of manipulation if the chairman post is held by someone else other than the Mentri Besar, Saarani said “I don’t think so. Usually, the post is held by the Mentri Besar, there is nothing to be concerned about,” he added.

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