In a recent statement, Menteri Kerja Raya Sabah, Datuk Shahelmey Yahya, clarified that the RM320 million grant to the federal government is meant for short-term solutions to Sabah's pressing water issues. This disclosure follows remarks made by Lamag Assemblyman, Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, during a session at the Sabah Legislative Assembly. Bung Moktar had argued that the allocated fund is inadequate to solve the water supply problems the state is facing.
Addressing Water Supply Issues
Shahelmey agreed with Bung Moktar's view, stating that the allocated amount is indeed insufficient. However, he explained that this fund is aimed at addressing about eight initiatives, including the expansion of water treatment plants' capacity, conducting feasibility studies for hydroelectric dams, and cracking down on illegal connections. The Kogopon Water Treatment Plant's capacity is being expanded from 40 MLD to 80 MLD, and the Telibong II Water Treatment Plant's capacity is being increased from 80 MLD to 160 MLD. He highlighted that a comprehensive solution to the water supply issues in Sabah would require a budget exceeding RM12 billion.
Political Debates and Corruption
The discussion on Sabah's water supply issues comes amid a broader context of political debates and statements from various representatives on issues such as corruption, political integrity, and local support trends within UMNO Sabah. The region is gearing up for its 17th general election, making these discussions more significant. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor emphasized the government's zero-tolerance stance on corruption, especially in light of the ongoing corruption trial involving Sabah Water Department officials. He expressed serious concern over corruption in the Sabah utilities industry, describing it as an incurable disease that could hinder the state’s progress if not addressed.
Government's Stance on Corruption
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor reiterated that the government will not compromise on corruption. He pointed out the alleged profiteering among private water transporters despite state funds being allocated for the purpose. The Chief Minister also mentioned the construction of a 100MW power plant by Ranhill Sabah Energy (RSE) in Kimanis and the burden of commercial power sale on consumers and the government. In light of these issues, the Sabah government is keeping tabs on the possibility of corruption among civil servants, particularly in project implementations.