Prioritise clean water supply over mega projects, Chong tells S’wak govt

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING (Sept 10): The Sarawak government should first ensure clean pipe water supply for the people of Sarawak before talking big about the multi-billion investment in hydrogen production, said state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

This is because clean water is one of the basic needs of the people of Sarawak and essential to a healthy living, he asserted.

“It is the basic duty of the government to supply clean water to the people. A government that fails to provide clean water supply for its people has failed in its basic duty to the people,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Chong, who is Stampin MP and Padungan assemblyman, said they had received numerous complaints from the people about murky water from their taps.

He felt that the statement issued by the Kuching Water Board (KWB) about “scouring of sediments in the pipelines when the board ran another group of pumps to mitigate the water supply shortfalls” was nothing but mere excuse for a careless act.

Even with “the running of another group of pumps”, he said KWB could and should do the flushing exercise before allowing the water to reach the houses in Kuching.

He claimed that over the last two decades, the state government had neglected the development of infrastructure for clean water for the people.

“As a result, we have the recurrence of murky tap water problems and low water supply pressure in many housing areas. When new housing areas were developed, the state government did not replace the existing main pipes with bigger pipes.

“Naturally, this results in low water pressure as the existing pipes are just too small to serve an increasingly bigger population in the area,” he said.

Chong further added that in Kuching, many households had to install water filter systems in order to get clear water, an additional cost to the people.

“More significantly, what about those (in the) low-income group who cannot afford to buy and install water filter system in their houses? They are forced to accept the low quality dirty water provided by the state government.

“Therefore, instead of going on talking about multi-billion projects and investments, (Premier) Abang Jo and his cabinet should give serious attention to ensure sufficient and clean water supply to the people in Kuching and allocate sufficient funds for the development of sufficient and clean water supply to the people of Kuching,” he said.

According to Chong, this is a state matter and within the power of the state government to resolve.

He asserted that it was just that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government had got its priority all wrong to prioritise glamorous multi-billion projects over the basic needs of the people.

“If the government cannot even provide sufficient and clean water supply to the people, it is pointless to shout about ‘turning Lundu into the Dubai in Sarawak’, ‘turning Sibu into the Amsterdam in Sarawak’ or (Deputy Premier) Dr Sim’s rhetoric of ‘Sarawak becoming like Singapore’.

“Just to remind Dr Sim, back in the 1980s, people could already safely drink from the tap in Singapore. More than 40 years later, in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, we still need water filter systems installed in our houses just to have our tap water look clear and all these years, it has been the BN/GPS government governing Sarawak,” Chong added.

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