DOMESTIC Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin’s announcement that his ministry will begin laboratory tests on potable water supplied in Kuala Lumpur, “Ministry starts lab tests on consumer products’’ (The Star, Jan 23), though belated, is a step in the right direction.
However, the tests should cover the entire Klang Valley where dirty tap water is most prevalent.
The ministry's planned action is significant as water supply was always a state matter and the quality of water never before came within its purview.
The Selangor Water Corporation, Perbadanan Urus Air Selangor (PUAS), formerly known as Jabatan Bekalan Air Selangor, supplies water to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
However, the standards governing the quality of drinking water in this country are specified in the Health Ministry's “National guidelines on drinking water quality 1983.”
To ensure that drinking water complies with these standards, the Health Ministry established the “national drinking water quality surveillance programmes” for the monitoring of water quality by its Engineering Services Department.
But so far no results or conclusions from tests on water samples taken by the ministry were made public.
This is in spite of numerous and frequent complaints of dirty tap water by consumers and the increasingly rampant and unauthorised use of domestic water filters in the Klang Valley to overcome the problem.
With deafening silence from the relevant authorities on these complaints, consumers cannot help but think that there could be gross inadequacies in the Health Ministry’s water quality monitoring and sampling programmes or that the authorities are not being transparent in their actions and are concealing the truth from them.
It is heartening that Muhyiddin is the first in the Government to acknowledge publicly there are complaints of dirty drinking water in Kuala Lumpur.
The results of water quality tests on samples to be taken by his ministry will go a long way to ascertain, once and for all, the quality of potable water in the Klang Valley.
Should the results fail to comply with quality standards, hopefully they would spur PUAS to take immediate and effective measures.
Another interesting aspect of the minister’s announcement is the revelation that the ministry deemed potable water as a “goods” within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 under its purview.
The minister is obviously concerned that if PUAS takes no action to address the problem soon, consumers will seek redress under the provisions of the Act.
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