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14 theSun | THURSDAY MAY 14 2009

INTERVIEWS VIEWS

Averting a water crisis


Malaysia may face depletion the shores.
very soon. There are signs that Furthermore, the more the
acute water shortage may al- water used by the public, the
ready be felt within the next five more energy and fuel PBAPP
years if the consumption trend is is forced to consume in treat-
left unchecked. ing raw water and pumping to
“If we continue to consume homes, to fulfil its 100% urban
WAY back in the 1780s, scores of distance of some 9.5km. sponsible for consuming more water at this present high rate,” supply coverage and 99.5% rural
indentured labourers from India From here earthenware pipes than 272 billion litres of treated warned Chief Minister Lim Guan supply coverage.
worked to sustain the rising carried water to the streets, with water – enough to fill 104 dams TheNutmeg Eng, “we are going to need more Added to these problems is
population of Penang, by car- tin pipes leading to individual the size of the Air Itam Dam on or bigger dams, treatment plants, a looming threat to the region’s
rying on their bare backs huge houses. By 1887, all of George the island. Verses pumping stations and pipelines most sensitive water catchment
containers of water that they had Town had running water, Remarkably, domestic water by Himanshu Bhatt soon because our population area. On June 18 last year, Kedah
collected from the waterfall on serving a community of 70,000 consumers here used an average will continue to grow. Water Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan
the island. people. of 285 litres of water per person infrastructure projects can cost Abdul Razak announced plans
While the struggles of these Today, blessed with a seem- per day last year, as compared billions of ringgit.” to allow logging around the Pedu,
labourers, who were responsible ingly robust, ever-flowing supply to merely 157 litres in Singapore The Penang Water Supply Muda and Ahning dam vicinities.
for providing precious water to of water, the 1.55 million people and 219 litres in Hongkong. Corporation (PBAPP) is consid- Deforestation in the earmarked
the early port settlement under of modern Penang are oblivious The treated water for domes- ering drastic measures to curb area, reportedly twice the size of
the British colonial administra- to the toils of their predecessors. tic consumption here costs only consumption, including penalis- Singapore, would drastically af-
tion, are no longer remembered, It is not uncommon to see 10% of the price for treated water ing those who use excessive fect water supply, irrigation and
part of a shrine they had built hawkers let water run freely in Singapore and 25% of the price amounts. also power, while raising tem-
then still exists near the water- from pipes even when dishes are of treated water in Hongkong. The state is keenly pointing to peratures in the whole region.
fall, in what is today a restricted not being washed, and for taps It is no wonder then that the example of Singapore, which Amid such an ominous crisis,
zone in the Botanic Gardens. in houses to be left open, with the Penang government, citing has little raw water of its own we could do well to help recount
Due to the efforts of such water pouring out like endless economic and environmental and is recycling its wastewater. the trials our early pioneers, to
early pioneers, Penang had al- springs, even when not in use. pressures, has gone on a drive The authorities have also tried make our people value how pre-
ready got its first running water Tragically enough, while to reduce consumption, targeting to emphasise the environmental cious the water resources that
by 1805. Governor RT Farquhar Penang’s water supply rate, at to reduce water usage by at least ramifications of exorbitant water we are left with today are.
had ordered engineers to build only 30 sen a litre, is the cheap- 10% in 2009. consumption. The higher the
an aqueduct to convey fresh wa- est in country, the consumption The state’s concern is not use, the more the wastewater
ter collected from the waterfall by its inhabitants is one of the unwarranted. There have been that would be discharged into Himanshu is Penang bureau chief.
stream to a reservoir at the site highest. warnings that water supply in the sea, further contributing to Comments: letters@thesundaily.
of the current E&O Hotel – a In 2008, Penangites were re- the northern part of peninsular over-pollution and poisoning of com

letters
letters@thesundaily.com
Climate chaos
IDR challenges call for special ties predicted by CO2 study
by Steve Connor culated accurately the amount of green-
house gas emissions that can be released
I REFER to Singapore Finance tutional structures causing these under IDR needs to be carefully THE world will overshoot its long-term between 2000 and 2050 and still have a
Minister Tharman Shanmugarat- shortfalls considered. While it is clear that target on greenhouse gas emissions within reasonable chance of avoiding temperature
nam’s comments on economic The IDR proposal therefore as a growth area it should repre- two decades. A study has found that the rises higher than 2°C above pre-industrial
prospects facing the republic in theoretically and conceptually of- sent the best that both countries average global temperature will rise above levels – viewed as a “safe” threshold.
an interview on Al Jazeera on May fers a new and dynamic potential can offer in terms of value-added the threshold that could cause dangerous The scientists found the total amount of
3. platform from which to address activities and human resource de- climate change during that time. greenhouse gases that could be released
The most refreshing dimension and redress the above-mentioned velopment activities for the people, Scientists have calculated that the world over this time would be equivalent to 1,000
of the interview was the absence scenario through the revival and it cannot be “conceived as a clone has already produced about a third of the billion tons of CO2. This is equivalent to us-
of resorting to a “blame game” es- modernisation of the strong and of Singapore or a Singaporean total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that ing up about 25% of known reserves of oil,
pecially against the American-style multiple ties that have existed enclave in Johor”, either. could be emitted between 2000 and 2050 gas and coal, said Bill Hare, a co-author of
capitalist system. At best, America between Johor and Singapore ever Both the Johor and Singapore and still keep within a 2°C rise in global the study.
and other defaulting nations failed since the region came under the governments are clear that the IDR average temperatures. The study concluded that the world
to recognise the early fiscal warn- sway of British Imperialism in the offers a challenging opportunity At the rate at which CO2 is emitted must agree on a cut in carbon dioxide
ing signals and thereby simply “got late 19th century. for both counties to maximise the globally – which is increasing by 3% a year emissions of more than 50% by 2050 if
it wrong”. At worst, the current Indeed, it needs to be empha- application of available up-to-date – countries will have exceeded their total the probability of exceeding a 2°C rise in
problem arose from Americans sised from the outset that the sophisticated high-tech resources limit of 1,000 billion tons within 20 years, average temperatures is to be limited to a
living beyond their means. island of Singapore was in fact a for the development of the region. which would be about 20 years earlier than risk of 1 in 4.
The Singapore case was well territorial part of the state of Johor It is important, however, that this planned under international obligations. “If “With every year of delay (in agreeing on
presented as one of being at the when Sir Stamford Raffles “ac- should happen within a social we continue burning fossil fuels as we do, further cuts), we consume a larger part of
“receiving end” of the meltdown. quired” the island for Britain. But its climate which also recognises the we will have exhausted the carbon budget in our emissions budget, losing room to ma-
It was a comprehensive and importance even at its inception, specific needs of each country; and merely 20 years, and global warming will go noeuvre and increasing the probabilities of
transparent appraisal of the overall was recognised not just as being in particular, the need to identify well beyond 2°C,” said Malte Meinshausen dangerous consequences,” said Reto Knutti
situation in the “big picture” and an island as such, but rather as the and overcome constraints each of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
a somewhat bold projection that potential central point and focus may face towards achieving joint Research in Germany, who led the study, in Zurich.
the policies and the new strategies for future trade and commerce development goals. This calls for a published in Nature. Myles Allen of Oxford University said the
being put in place to result in the for the entire region of the Malay special mutually-cooperative and “Substantial reductions in global emis- total emissions of CO2 that have accumu-
desired outcomes. States and even for the adjoining supportive relationship that should sions have to begin soon – before 2020. If lated in the atmosphere since the start of
The analysis was rather more territories of Indonesia. Raffles’ not only enhance the effective- we wait longer, the required phase-out of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th
in the nature of a university lec- foresight has therefore resulted ness of the immediate objectives carbon emissions will involve tremendous century are the really important figure for
ture rather than a projection of in the exchange of countless of- themselves, but more importantly, economic costs and technological challeng- future climate change.
the future direction for change. ficial and personal relationships contribute to Singapore’s long- es. We should not forget that a 2°C global “Mother Nature doesn’t care about
Indeed, the discussion was es- continuously over the past century term development. mean warming would take us far beyond dates. To avoid dangerous climate change
sentially status-quo oriented and between these territories so that the variations that Earth has experienced we will have to limit the amount of carbon
specifically well “within the box” such relationships today are now Dr Collin Abraham since we humans have been around.” we inject into the atmosphere, not just the
in a situation where new political a matter of daily occurrence. These Kuala Lumpur It is the first time scientists have cal- rate,” Dr Allen said. – The Independent
structures and initiatives to break cumulative relationships should
out of the impasse were omitted. now be reflected in the pattern of
These would have been crucial if trade and prosperity of Malaysia
real and meaningful improvements
are to ensue.
It is important that the entire
and Singapore so that the IDR
could move on to wider arenas at
more sophisticated levels.
Tell us more about 42,000 projects awarded
Iskandar Development Region (IDR) It may be useful to understand THE government recently reported that the contractors, cost estimations, tenders countability and curbing corruption and
plan proposals therefore should that the geopolitical perspective in some 42,000 projects worth RM5.6 billion and quotations have been received from waste.
be framed and developed within the historical development in the had been awarded. contractors, and these have been properly Elected representatives and the peo-
a clear “theoretical” perspective relationship between Johor (as part For the government to affirm that so evaluated and reviewed? ple will become aware of the projects and
of charting the kind of initial of Malaysia) and Singapore has many projects have been “awarded” in When so much funds are rushed are likely to provide good feedback on the
structural changes that need to essentially been one of the “satel- such a short period is undoubtedly an through a system with limited capacity, projects.
be made. This is because, after lite-hinterland”. That is to say that extraordinary effort and achievement, there are bound to be all kinds of leakage The government should also come out
the years of political independ- while on the one hand Singapore bearing in mind that these are not nor- and waste due to many causes – ranging with specific information and assurances
ence, the plan can be seen as a as the “satellite” was dependent mal well-planned operations undertaken from pilferage, overpayment for limited to the public on how it is going to ensure
microcosm for “taking stock” of on the “hinterland” of Malaysia through the annual budget process. works, uncompleted projects, etc. that these 43,000 projects and the funds
past developments and indeed for much of its natural resources And, what is meant by “awarded”. The government should list all the that go with it are going to be properly
offering the defining possibility of including water, Singapore’s rapid Does this mean that contracts worth projects by sectors and geographical re- managed by ministries and departments
redressing some of the shortfalls and dynamic rate and pace of de- that amount have been issued to contrac- gions, showing the value of each project, and what form of reports will be submit-
in Singapore’s own past develop- velopment and modernisation ena- tors? Does this mean that the government the office responsible, its intended output ted to the people and Parliament on their
ment plans. Central to this concern bled it to function as a “magnet” to has completed the following actions and outcome, the number of beneficiar- completion.
is necessity of identifying some draw and drain the economic and which are critical prerequisites to ensure ies and when the project is to be com- The auditor general can also come out
of the fundamental constraints human resources of the hinterland funds are not wasted: proper needs as- pleted. with clear statements on how his office is
to the plan proposals, as well as towards its own development. sessment and identification of beneficiar- Providing such information in an easily going to audit and report the projects.
formulating and implementing On this basis, it can be argued ies, proper project specifications of works accessible form will be the first practical
the re-structuring of certain insti- that the model of development or supplies that need to be provided by step in improving transparency and ac- Kathirvel