Khamis, 26 April 2012

The Star : MACC wades into water woes

The water flowing from taps in Kelantan is dirty but some deals in the state are just as murky with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission wading in now to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds by the supplier.

While Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat is putting up a brave front and welcoming the probe, he is being asked to resign for failing to resolve water woes in the state after 22 years in power.

The NGO calling for the resignation of the PAS spiritual leader has accused the water supply agency Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd of misappropriating part of the RM570mil that is being loaned by the Federal Government.

Citing an instance of what it considers irregular, the Kelantan People's Action Council said AKSB had pushed up the estimate for a water treatment plant in Geng from RM35mil to RM58mil.

“Despite the upgrading, the quality of the water is still poor,” the NGO's president Azmi Ali said in his report to the MACC. “We also believe there is misappropriation in the project to replace 80,000 water meters with smart meters that cost RM12mil. Even that project was a total failure.”

Following his report, a special MACC team from Putrajaya visited the AKSB office on Tuesday while Nik Aziz was chairing a meeting of the agency's top management.

Sources said Nik Aziz adjourned the meeting when he learned of the presence of the MACC officers who informed him that they were there to collect evidence and statements from AKSB officials. It is learnt that the MACC officers are asking for more documents from AKSB to facilitate the investigation. Nik Aziz said he welcomed the probe by the MACC. “It is timely for the MACC to carry out a thorough investigation. My office door is open 24 hours and we hope the investigation will help clear our name,” he said after launching a fund to build Masjid Al-Ihsan here yesterday.

“We know who lodged the report and it is up to the rakyat whether to believe the allegations.”

He also said the loan from the Federal Government was not enough because the money was given in instalments. “It may sound a lot but we get the funding in stages. Work (to upgrade water treatment plants) was also delayed because the contractors we chose were rejected by the Federal Government,” he said. It was highlighted in November that people in Kelantan were facing acute water problems with billions of ringgit needed to repair water treatment plants and to replace old pipes. More than 1.08 million people are affected. A Heath Ministry study between 2008 and 2010 had found that there were elements in the water that could be a health hazard. Nik Aziz himself had admitted that there were “dangerous elements” in the water supplied by AKSB, which serves the whole state.