Malaysians act for their water rights

Featured - August 6th, 2012
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A Malaysian politician is waist deep in murky waters after attacking the local water company for its decrepit services, stirring up social action in the country, Wall Street Journal reports.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn. Bhd. accused parliament member Tony Pua Kim Wee of the opposition Democratic Action Party of defaming the company in a news article. Mr. Pua did not deny claiming that the company had not been efficient. He was found guilty in a Kuala Lumpur high court and was fined 200,000 Malaysian ringgit ($26,000) in damages plus costs up to RM 80,000 ($26,000). Mr. Pua appealed the decision, saying that his statements were justified. Selangor residents were complaining of poor water quality and weak water pressure. However, SYABAS defended its services and blamed the protracted restructuring of the system.

The DAP party launched an online fundraising campaign to help Mr. Pua pay the fines and the public supported it. The ruling United Malays National Organization claimed that the water issue is being ‘politicized’, used by the opposition to take a swipe at the national government. Nevertheless, this reflects a growing sense of social action across Malaysia, particularly over issues such as clean water – a basic right in every country, the Journal reports.