ADUN SPEAKS | I don’t think that Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has ever touched on the idea of riparian rights and why Penang need not pay for the raw water intake on its own side of the Sungai Muda.
But Sanusi is no fool; he is indirectly harping on one thing that we might have overlooked.
His preoccupation with Penang not paying the water bill is just an excuse to justify his real interest in logging in the Muda region — the sprawling water catchment area.
Even though the federal government wrote off nearly RM700 million of Kedah's water debts and allowed for an extended payment for the balance debts of more RM1 billion, Sanusi is not very enthusiastic.
For him it is very simple: this federal generosity might not directly translate into increasing the financial capacity of Kedah.
In short, under the present PAS administration, the interest is more on the flow of direct cash.
Sanusi’s argument to the federal government is: since Penang is stubborn in not paying for the raw water intake, then Kedah should be permitted extensive logging to make up for the loss of income from Penang.
In fact, his earlier interest in rare earth mining with the promise of El Dorado in Kedah was another attempt to divert attention from the real issue of logging.
Threats of blocking water supply, going to court and, lately, threats of muddy water flow to Penang are attempts by Sanusi to divert attention from the real issue: the greed for logging.
Sanusi's bizarre logic
If extensive logging is permitted (it is not that there is no logging at present), there is much money that can be made from this adventure or misadventure.
The very nature of logging, the prevalent practice of logging more than what will be permitted, the rampant corruption among the contractors and government officials will rob the extensive forests in the Muda region of its rich water catchment areas — the source of water supply to Kedah, Perlis and Penang.
Perhaps, when Sanusi was talking about the possibility of Penang drawing upon muddy water, he was indeed alluding to a future scenario of the river water being muddied by extensive and irresponsible logging.
Ultimately, the blame will be cast on Penang for refusing to pay the water charges, forcing Kedah to go for other options such as logging to keep it financially afloat.
Such is the convoluted and bizarre logic of Sanusi — a man known to legitimise the demolition of Hindu temples, insulting Indians as consumers of toddy and for abrupt cancellation of religious holidays.
RAMASAMY PALANISAMY is Perai assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.