COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
The Minister of Environment and Water, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has taken a more conciliatory approach in asking Penang to contribute funds for the Kedah government to safeguard the water catchment area in the Ulu Muda Region.
Rather than repeating what was demanded by the Kedah MB Muhammed Sanusi Md Nor for RM50 million a year from Penang for using water from Sungei Muda, Tuan Ibrahim merely encouraged Penang to make some financial contribution.
So that Kedah would desist the temptation of logging and extracting rare earth elements in places like Sik, Ulu Muda and Baling.
In a way, Tuan Ibrahim was advising the Penang government to ensure that Sanusi does not proceed with his wild adventurism of logging and the mining of REE.
But why should Penang pay?
The responsibility of safeguarding water catchment areas remains the responsibility of both state and federal governments.
If the federal government obtains revenue in the form of taxes, shouldn’t it be its responsibility to safeguarding the water catchment areas.
I thought the federal government collects more revenue from states like Penang so that revenue derived could be distributed to lesser developed states.
In fact, I would think a portion of tax collected from Penang could be channeled to Kedah for the maintenance of water catchment areas.
In this respect, there is no necessity for Penang to pay extra to Kedah.
The threat of logging or REE could not be used as blackmail to beget financial contribution from Penang.
The water catchment area might be in Ulu Muda, but Penang only draws water from its side of Sungei Muda.