Ahmad Saad as PWA Chairman is only interested in using PWA funds to do business and buy shares instead of ensuring proper future planning to meet water needs of Penang in the 21st century

Speech by Penang Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on June 8, 1994 on the DAP amendment to the motion to set up the Public Accounts Committee

Ahmad Saad as PWA Chairman is only interested in using PWA funds to do business and buy shares instead of ensuring proper future planning to meet water needs of Penang in the 21st century

I support the amendment moved by the DAP Assemblyman for Pengkalan Kota, Sdr. Chow Kon Yew to remove the Assemblyman for Penanti, Ahmad Saad, from the Public Accounts Committee.

Ahmad Saad is Chairman of the Penang Water Authority, which is one of the agencies which come under the review of the Public Accounts Committee. It is ridiculous for Ahmad Saad to sit in the Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise the accounts and performance of the Penang Water Authority of which he is Chairman – and this problem cannot be resolved by his staying away from the PAC when the PWA is being discussed.

It is clear that Ahmad Saad as PWA Chairman is only interested in using PWA funds to do business and buy shares instead of ensuring proper future planning to meet the water needs of Penang in the 21st century.

Last month, Ahmad Saad said that as PWA recorded a surplus of RM23 million last year and was cash-rich with RM123 million, it was submitting a proposal to the state government to allow it to go into business and to buy shares.

Why PWA allowed large-scale illegal and indiscriminate land clearing and felling of trees threatening the Telok Bahang catchment area before taking action?

If Ahmad Saad had been more responsible as PWA Chairman and not be so crazy about buying shares, he would not have allowed Telok Bahang water catchment area to be threatened by indiscriminate land clearing and felling of trees.

These illegal activities affect the supply and quality of water to about 50,000 people in the northern coastal areas as well as the Batu Ferringhi tourism belt.

Although the PWA had lodged three police reports, the question is why action was only taken after at least 29 lots were illegally cleared, and at least 10 bungalows and chalets and five private dams had been constructed? And what is the use of these police reports?

Under the Environmental Quality Act 1987, EIA must be conducted before any type of development, logging or conversion of forest land within the catchment areas could be carried out. This has not been done.

As a result, once clear rivers like Sungai Teluk Bahang, Sungai Teluk Awak, Sungai Endoi, Sungai Ubi and their tributaries, which form part of the water catchment area, have now turned murky after heavy downpours – the result of earth washed clown from the hills.

In the State Assembly last July, I had raised the question as to why, the government was constructing a dam in Telok Bahang instead of the Prai River Basin as a water dam in the Prai River as such a dam in Teluk Bahang is economical from the financial point of view.

I said that from a feasibility study undertaken by Eyed Mohd. Binnie & Partners on the Teluk Bahang Water Scheme, which involves the construction of a dam, treatment plant and distribution water trunk mains, the cost of untreated water would come to over RM1.20 per cubic metre (or 1,000 litres). Currently, water in Penang is sold at only 22 sen per cubic metre, while Johore is currently supplying Malacca treated water at 20 sen per cubic metre.

The Exco member for Infrastructure and Utilities, Dr. Hilmi bin Haji Yahaya, in his reply agreed with the costing but said that because of interest-free loan for the KM156 million Teluk Bahang dam project, the cost of water could be brought down to 32 sen per cubic metre.

However, at that time, Dr. Hilmi could only say that the State Government had received RM10 million interest-free loan from the Federal Government. Can Dr. Hilmi confirm now that the Federal Government will give an interest-free loan for the entire project costing RM156 million – as well as for the additional costs of the project when it is completed?

Ahmad Saad as Chairman of PWA seems to be playing a completely passive role on the issue of Teluk Bahang dam project – particularly about the suitability of the choice of site.

Syed Muhammad, Hooi dan Binnie Sdn, Bhd. (SMHB), konsultan yang telah menjalankan Kajian Sumber-Sumber Air Negeri Pulau Pinang, mencadangkan Empangan Teluk Bahang menjadi suatu simpanan kemarau strategik bagi menemui keperluan air Negeri Pulau Pinang sehingga tahun 2010.

Tetapi mengikut suatu kajian perangkaan aliran sungai dan keperluan air di kawasan-kawasan Teluk Bahang dan Batu Ferringi yang dijalankan oleh Jabatan Jurutera Kerja PBA, Jabatan Jurutera Kerja berpendapat bahawa mungkin terdapat kekurangaii air lebihan untuk maksud simpanan.

SMHB telah dijemput oleh PBA untuk menjelaskan tentang perkara ini di satu mesyuarat pada 21.7.93, tetapi SMHB tidak dapat memberi sebarang bukti yang pasti tentang lebihan air yang mencukupi dari sumber-sumber Teluk Bahang dan Batu Ferringi untuk maksud simpanan.

Mereka menyatakan tentang keperluan mengurangkan penyaluran air sekarang daripada kedua-dua sumber ini agar air yang mencukupi dapat diperolehi untuk pembendungan di dalam empangan berkenaan setelah dibina.

Saya dapati bahawa berdasarkan kepada kadar pembendungan seperti yang dinyatakan oleh konsultan, sekiranya tiada pengurangan dalam kadar penyaluran sekarang empangan itu akan mengambil masa lebih kurang empat tahun untuk dipenuhkan -dan bukan dalam tempoh 1 1/2 hingga dua tahun yang mengikut kajian asal.

Ini menimbul suatu masalah baru – bahawa pengurangan da lain bekalan air akibat daripada sebarang pengurangan dalam penyaluran air sekarang daripada sumber-sumber Teluk Bahang dan Batu Ferringi harus ditampung dengan bekalan daripada suatu sumber lain, yang paling mungkin ialah Sungei Perai. Untuk membolehkan ini, sumber-sumber Sungai Perai harus di majukan serentak dengan Projek Bekalan Air Teluk Bahang. Talianpaip-talianpaip dalamlaut tambahan perlu dipasang dan lebih banyak air harus dipamkan dari tanah besar ke Pulau Pinang. Ini akan melibatkan perbelanjaan tambahan yang tidak dikira di dalam anggaran kewangan konsultan untuk Projek Bekalan Air Teluk Bahang.

As PBA Chairman, Ahmad Saad should be more concerned of the problem of ensuring adequate water supply for Penang in the 21st century instead of hew to use PBW funds to go into business and buying shares.

As the PBA considered other alternatives of water, supplies as Sungei Muda?

These are issues which the PAC should examine, as audit must now embrace performance audit as well as project audit – and clearly it is most improper for Ahmad Saad as PBA Chairman to be involved in such a dual role if he is a member of the PAC.

PAC should examine the issue of OCs by MPPP and in particular whether there has been any conflict of interest on the part of MPPP President, Tan Gim Hwa in MPPP planning and building decisions

The PAC report tabled in this meeting on its examination into the 1989 MPSP and 1990 MPPP accounts also refer to the perennial problem about, the issue of OCs by the two local authorities.

The PAC should conduct a special examination into the issue of OCs by the MPPP and the MPSP.

The Chief Minister, Dr. Kon Tsu Koon, said in his written reply to me that the MPPP is expediting the issue of OCs and “telah melaksanakan sistem permohonan Sijil Penghunian secara ‘on the spot’ di mana setelah semua syarat dipatuhi, arkitek boleh buat permohonan sendiri kepada Majlis dan jawapan diberi secara ‘on the spot’. Sekiranya semua syarat dipatuhi Sijil Penghunian akan dikeluarkan dalam masa dua minggu sepertimana saranan/keputusan Kabinet”.

However, I have been informed by architects and developers that there is no such ‘on the spot’ system in the MPPP where OCs could be issued in two weeks when all conditions have been complied – and that the process will take at least three to four months.

I challenge the Chief Minister to give instances where the MPPP had issued ‘on the spot’ CFs within two weeks when all conditions have been complied with.

The PAC should also examine into the shocking practic in the MPPP where it issued temporary OCs for as long as 11 years.

Among establishments which have no permanent OCs include Super Jalan Burma shopping complex, Rumahpangsa Duniaga in Teluk Bahang, Ramahpangsa Upchem in Teluk Kumbar, Hotel Mutia-ra. Hotel Parkroyal, Hotel Bayview Pacific. When are these cases going to be regularised?

The PAC should also hold a special inquiry as to whether there had been any conflict of interest involving the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa involving MPPP planning and building decisions.

Why did the MPPP deny in the Penang Assembly last December that the MPPP had given approval for a 12-storey apartment block next to the Penang Swimming Club, in breach of the building and planning guidelines requiring 50 feet setback from the sea as well as from both sides. Is this because what I said last December that this approval was given after the intervention of the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, was right?

I asked a question during this meeting the number of times Tan Gim Hwa declared that he had an interest in planning and building applications before the MPPP and withdrew from the meeting, and the list is a very long one – probably the longest in the history of local government in Malaysia where the President of the Municipal Council had to withdraw from meetings because he has interest in the projects under consideration.

For instance, the PAC should investigate into the interest of Tan Gim Hwa when the MPPP gave its initial approval for the RM250 million Marina Project, formerly D. Parade Development, on 18th March 1993.

According to the Registry of Companies records, as on 31st December 1992, as on 31st December 1992, one of the major shareholders of D”Parade Development Sdn. Bhd. was T. Brosis Sdn. Bhd. of 1st Floor, Wisa Lister Garden, 123-G Macalister Road, 10400, Penang.

According to the Registry of Companies records, as en 20.3.1993, Tan Gim Hwa was one of the directors of T. Brosis Sdn. Bhd., the other two being Quah Mo Say alias Quah Moh See, housewife, with the same address as Tan Gim Hwa and Ong Hok Lee, merchant of No., 26, Logans Road, 10400, Penang.

It is to be noted that by 20.3.1993, Tan Gim Hwa had been appointed MPPP President for exactly one year- and his continuing as a company director is clearly a violation of his office and position.

The main shareholder of T.Brosis Sdn. Bhd. is held by a company known as Be Mine Holdings Sdn. Bhd.

According to the Registry of Companies records, as on 25.2.1992, the two directors of Be Mine Holdings Sdn. Bhd. are Tan Gim Hwa and Quah Mo Say alias Quah Moh See, both of the same address, given as No. 1, Haloman MacAlister Road, 10450, Penang.

These particulars speak for themselves and explain why the PAC must institute a full inquiry as to whether there had been conflict of interest in MPPP planning and building decisions involving MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa.