by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, February 20, 1993:
April Parliament should pass legislation requiring Tenaga Nasional to compensate consumers for losses or its monopoly position should be abolished to allow for efficient service and fair competition in power supplies
After the September 29 nation-wide power blackout, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said “it should never have happened”. Four months later, what “should never have happened”. Four months later, what “should never have happened” is happening every day in the country, with regular power disruptions the order of the day – putting Malaysia in the same bracket as Manila in terms of regular power disruptions.
For two years, the government leaders had been talking about the Vision 2020 and Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation, but the four-month transformation of Malaysia from a country where nation-wide power breakdowns “should never have happened” to one where it is a daily occurrence is a stark reminder of the vast gap between words and deeds as well as between vision and reality.
The national power crisis will be a key factor in the slackening of economic growth in Malaysia as well as scaring off intending investors.
TENAGA Executive Chairman, Tan Sri Ani Arope, said yesterday that TENAGA NASIONAL BHD. would be able to generate 12,000 to 13,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2,000 which would be sufficient to cater to the country’s energy needs expected to reach 10,000 megawatts by then.
Has the September 29 nation-wide power black-out been blacked out too?
In normal circumstances, such a statement would be very assuring to both the people and investors (present and instead), but not now any more. Nobody could be blamed for not giving much credence to such assurances when the TENAGA NASIONAL BHD. could foul up so badly and turn a country where a nation-wide power blackout “should never have happened” into a country where it is a daily occurrence.
If past PAST TENAGA NASIONAL BHD. assurances that it could cater to the country’s energy needs have proved to be empty promises, how could TENAGA NASIONAL BHD’s current promises about its future performance be believed?
It also does not inspire public confidence when after more than four months, the public are still kept the dark about the outcome of the investigations into the September 29 nation-wide power blackout last year. At that time, the Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, said TENAGA could not be blamed because it was ‘an Act of God’! Has this nation – wide power black-out report being blacked out too?
The inefficiency, incompetence and power planning of the Ministry of Energy, Posts and Telecommunications and TENAGA NASIONAL BHD. had caused enormous losses to the people, industries and the country.
The privatization of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD should have been fitted the consumers and the country, but the reverse seems to be the case.
Even worse, the privatization of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD has resulted in reduced accountability responsibility to the consumers.
DAP proposes that Parliament when it begins its next ordinary meeting on April 26, should introduce legislation requiring TENAGA NASIONAL BHD to compensate consumers for loses suffered by them as a result of prolonged power breakdowns.
It is time that steps are taken to make TENAGA NASIONAL BHD as well as other privatized entities more responsible and accountable for their actions.
In the United Kingdom, there are already legislation where privatized entities have customic compensation schemes to ensure minimum service quality, and where consumers can claim compensate for any breach of this condition.
Samy Vellu more interested in defending the monopoly status of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD at the expense of the people
The Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu will be failing in his duty to protect the interests of the public if he is not prepared to introduce such legislation.
I am shocked that at a time of chronic and critical power crisis, Samy Vellu is more interested in defending the monopoly status and financial interests of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD. at the expense of the people.
Two days ago, he said that the Government would continue to ensure that TENAGA NASIONAL BHD enjoy its monopoly in the supply of electricity because of its huge interests in the company.
He said: “I have a responsibility to protect the interest of the Government. We don’t want the company share to go down to RM2 or RM1… We don’t want Government money to go down the drain.”
Clearly, Samy Vellu is prepared to sacrifice the interest of the people to protect the interests of the government and the shareholders in TENAGA NASIONAL BHD, which included many political groups and interests which had been given preferential TND shares.
If Samy Vellu wants to protect the monopoly status of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD, then he should introduce legislation to make it accountable to the consumers by paying compensation to users for losses it had caused.
Samy Vellu will be a very poor Minister if he had not realized that the monopoly position of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD has bred greater unaccountability, inefficiency and incompetence.
This is best illustrated by the massive traffic jams created in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and various parts of the country as a result of power cuts.
A spokesman for Tenaga (traffic lights section) was quoted in the press today as admitting that it had not informed the traffic police about the power cuts for the past two days. However, he said, the police would be able to spot affected traffic lights during rounds.
This is a most shocking and irresponsible attitude, and why such monopoly is not good for the people.
If the Cabinet and TENAGA NASIONAL BHD insist on keeping the monopoly for TNB, then legislation must be introduced to make it accountable to the public as requiring it to pay compensation for losses it had caused to the public for prolonged disruption of power supplies.
If the Cabinet and TENAGA NASIONAL BHD are not prepared to agree to such Consumers’ Compensation Legislation, then the monopoly status of TENAGA NASIONAL BHD should be abolished to allow private and independent power supplies, so as to ensure more efficient service and fair competition in the supply of energy.