May 1, 2006

Water, water everywhere

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause at 1:09 am by egalitaria

I've been accused of quoting Coleridge's line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner one time too many, but here it is warranted once again…

Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink!

The Water Bills will be debated in Parliament next week. It is not expected to be a pretty scene…as it is rife with controversy. 

This issue is part of a bigger issue of globalisation, a huge topic which I'm still mulling over. Part of me believes in the Friedman theory that there is no option but for nations to go full-gear into free trade, thereby following economic lowering of tariffs, removal of subsidies and protectionist policies. All these ensure productive and allocative efficiency, improving upon efficiency and allowing incentives as a pull factor for nations to buck up.

On the other hand, the activist side of me shouts out in protest for the poorer states, who obviously cannot survive on their own. With zero tax and subsidies, the reason most NGOs fight against globalisation and the WTO process is the lack of concern for poorer economies. The common picture painted is the fear of global MNCs sweeping down to take over and dominate local economies, resulting in the growth of the richest. As an economist, one would push for free market economies to inculcate a culture of competitiveness. As a socialist, one would likely be concerned for the welfare of the state and instead encourage a sustainable development. More of this to come.

For now, the water bills potentially means privatisation of water. It might affect the sovereignty of our country, as reported here

The Coalition Against Water Privatisation has come up with a comprehensive site to understand the matter further, here.  

The Press Statement here outlines briefly what CAWP feels. Some of the reasons why they believe water should not be privatised:

  • Water is a basic human right
  • Access to water is a legally binding responsibility of the State
  • The state shall provide for safe, affordable and adequate water supply

The basic question arises for people who cannot afford to pay for their water = will they then be refused clean tap water? 

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