SHAH ALAM, 30 JAN: The issue whether the concession agreement between the Selangor Water Supply Company (Syabas – Syarikat Bekalan Air Syabas) and the Selangor Government in 2004 was a government secret, will be tried in the Federal Court.
This was the decision of the court today towards an appeal made by the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP).
CAWP Chairman Charles Santiago said that the decision is a good move which allows for the public to know the details of ‘public interest projects’.
He said that his party will write a letter to the court to set a date for the case to be tried.
“The decision was a good move because the court stated that the State Government had an interest.
“Therefore, there is no basis for the minister to not allow disclosure of the document because audit reports were never classified as confidential under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972,” he said when contacted.
Previously, it was reported that CAWP had filed an appeal requesting for the audit report and the concession agreement signed by Syabas and the Selangor Government on 15 December 2004 to be declared non-confidential and as a public document.
They argued that the Syabas audit report was the basis of the Federal Government’s decision to increase water tariffs by 15 percent in the Klang Valley on 14 October 2006.
The appeal from the consumer coalition was however rejected by the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communication on December 4 the same year on grounds that the audit report and the concession agreement were confidential and Malaysian Government secrets.
In 2011, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the High Court which previously allowed respondents to have access to those documents.
The Court of Appeal’s majority decision determined that those documents were not disclosed.
Following that, CAWP had filed an appeal to the Federal Court to reconsider the decision of the Court of Appeal.
CAWP consists of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and 13 non-governmental organisations representing the consumers of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.