Kedah MB Muhammed Sanusi Md Nor is upset that Penang refuses to pay raw water charges for drawing water from Sungei Muda. He threatened that he might block the water supply but later relented by saying that he might refer the matter to the federal government or seek legal recourse to resolve the matter.
It is not that Penang is stubbornly resisting payment.
But why should Penang pay for water drawn from its side of the Sungei Muda?
From a historical perspective, there is nothing there to indicate that Penang is indebted to Kedah.
Prior to 1982, the territory north of the Sungei Muda was recognised as belonging to Penang in accordance with 1869 Anglo-Siamese Treaty. Originally, 30.5 km stretch of Sungei Muda belonged to Penang. However, in 1982, with the signing of the MoU between Kedah and Penang to facilitate the construction of the Ampang Jakarta Barrage, the boundary between the states were shifted south, the middle of Sungei Muda.
In 1985, both Kedah and Penang entered into (Alteration of Boundary) Act of 1985 or Article 2 of the Federal Constitution that recognised the boundary line of the two states as the centre line of Sungei Muda.
Penang had surrendered 27.7 acres of land to Kedah for water guarantee.
The guarantee was also a prerequisite for the approval of Asian Development Bank loan.
Penang agreed to the re-alignment of state boundary and surrender land in return for water guarantee from Kedah.
If Kedah wants raw water charges from Penang, is it willing to revisit history to ascertain how much land Penang has surrendered to Kedah in the past.
Furthermore, is Kedah willing to repudiate the Anglo-Siamese Treat of 1869, the subsequent agreements with Penang and the Alteration of Boundary Act of 1985 and the numerous gazettes.
Sungei Muda Water Scheme was officially opened by the late prime minister Tun Abdul Razak in 1973.
There is nothing in the opening statements to indicate that Kedah was entitled to raw water charges from Penang.
Kedah MB Sanusi pretends or not aware of the concept of Riparian rights which entitles Penang to draw water from its side of Sungei Muda.
This right is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Penang uses its own resources to draw water from its side of Sungei Muda with no infrastructure or land costs to Kedah.
Moreover, Penang takes in water from the down stream of Sungei Muda, south of Kedah’s treatment plants.
It must be remembered that Penang by abstracting water helps prevents flood during wet seasons in south of Kedah.
In conclusion, while I welcome Sanusi to take the Penang government to court, I would like to advise him to re-visit history to ascertain whether Kedah is entitled to raw water charges from Penang .