Go Ahead and Test the Water Quality
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin's announcement that his ministry would begin laboratory tests on potable water supplied in Kuala Lumpur (The Star, Jan 23, 2003), though belated, is a step in the right direction.

However, the tests should extend to cover the whole of the Klang Valley where dirty tap water is most prevalent.

The ministry's planned action is significant as water supply was always a state matter and the quality of water never before came within its purview.

The Selangor Water Corporation, Perbadanan Urus Air Selangor (PUAS), formerly known as Jabatan Bekalan Air Selangor, supplies water to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

However, the standards governing the quality of drinking water in this country are specified in the Health Ministry's "National guidelines on drinking water quality, 1983". To ensure that drinking water complies with these standards, the Health Ministry established the "National drinking water quality surveillance programmes" for the monitoring water quality by its Engineering Services Department.

But, so far no results or conclusions from tests on water samples taken by the Health Ministry has been made public. This is in spite of numerous and frequent complaints of dirty tap water by consumers and the increasingly rampant and unauthorized use of domestic water filters in the Klang Valley to overcome the problem.

With the deafening silence from the relevant authorities on these complaints, consumers cannot help but think that there could be gross inadequacies in Health Ministry's water quality monitoring and sampling programmes or that the authorities are not being transparent in their actions and are concealing the truth from them.

It is heartening to note that the Minister is the first in the Government to acknowledge publicly that there are complaints of dirty drinking water in Kuala Lumpur. The results of water quality tests on adequate representative samples to be taken by his Ministry will go a long way to ascertain, once and for all, the quality of potable water in the Klang Valley.

Should the results of tests fail to comply with quality standards, hopefully they would spur PUAS to take immediate and effective measures to address the widespread occurrence of dirty water in the Klang Valley.

Another interesting aspect of the minister's announcement is the important revelation that the ministry deemed potable water as a "goods" within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 under its purview.

The minister is obviously concerned that if PUAS takes no actions to address the problem soon, consumers will seek redress under the Act.

The above article was published in The Star on Jan 28, 2003.

nakedeyeview.com.my 2007