I am very disappointed to read Jacob George of CASSA' s letter "Puas should work with water vendors" (Malaysiakini, Jan 19th 2003).

First and foremost, it is obligatory for Puas to supply clean potable water to all the consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. It has to comply with relevant rules and standards governing the supply of water and they are: The Selangor's Water Supply Enactment 1997 and National Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality 1983. The former requires Puas to carry out such duties to protect the interests of the consumers in respect of, amongst others, "the quality of water and the services provided". The latter, amongst other requirements, states: "Drinking water must be clean, colourless and odourless. It must be pleasant to drink and….".

Obviously, the present water supplied to many parts of the Klang Valley does not comply with the national drinking water quality guidelines and by doing so, Puas is guilty of a serious dereliction of duty.

By urging Puas to work closely with water vendors Cassa is simply condoning Puas' failure to supply wholesome water.

No addition burden, financially or healthwise, should be imposed on the consumers. If water supplied by Puas complies with rules and standards, water should be safe to drink directly from the kitchen tap. And the current weighted average water tariff in Selangor is merely RM1.08 per thousand liters, which is dirt cheap compared to 20 sen per liter or RM200.00 per thousand liters! You call that consumer friendly? Yes, it will be if Puas can wholly subsidise the water vendors for producing cleaner water for public consumption.

Another area of concern to the public is the rationale behind Jacob George's suggestion for Puas to work closely with the water vendors. And I believe he speaks or writes on behalf of Cassa.

It is interesting to note that according to Cassia's WebPages, one of the main policies of Cassa is to ensure that basic human rights are recognised and those include, amongst others, the right to satisfaction of basic needs and the right to redress.

Water is essential to life and can be considered as a product or an utility within the ambit of Consumer Protection Act 1999 which also gives a consumer a right of redress against a supplier of goods or services that fail to comply with quality standards. Therefore for failure to supply potable water to its consumers, Puas is liable to damages in a civil claim under the provision of Consumer Protection Act 1999. (See Dirty tap water - consumers' rights of redress)

Surely, if Cassa is truly concerned about the poor water quality supplied by Puas to its members, it should initiate immediate and appropriate action against Puas as provided for under the Consumer Protection Act.

On this issue, it was reported in NST (Jan 13, 2003) that Cassa has given Puas 100 days to resolve the dirty water problem in the Klang Valley and would undertake legal action if Puas failed to resolve the matter within the given time frame. However, on the other hand and in the same breath, it is promoting the use of water vending machines.

I definitely find it extremely hard to reconcile the actions of Cassa. Any Consumer Association worth its salt should just go ahead and sue Puas. Period!


An edited version of the above was published in Malaysiakini on Jan 21, 2003.

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