Not long after Selangor's river pollution fiasco last month, on October 4th, Air Selangor posted an announcement on their Facebook page.
This affected another water cut, at which point the facility could not predict how long it would be before clean water could be redistributed to the affected city dwellers.
In the comments section of this post, as usual, there were angry internet users.
Some accused Air Selangor of being unable to prevent the problem at all and asked management to step down.
On the other hand, there were also some commentators who defended the facility.
It is understandable that affected customers would be upset about this repetitive incident. After all, water cuts have a direct impact on the quality of life, and business operations are also disrupted.
And of course, the pandemic has only helped to make the situation worse, as water is a necessity for maintaining hygiene.
It is not entirely correct to bring the trouble to Air Selangor, however, and I'll explain why below.
1. Preventing water pollution is not their job
Internet users asked why Air Selangor couldn't prevent this entire incident from happening again and again.
Also, before actually looking up Air Selangor's website, I was wondering why it looked like they kept allowing river pollution.
However, when you look at the website, it actually clearly states what operations they are performing.
Air Selangor is responsible for the treatment and distribution of water services to over 8.413 million people via more than 2 million customer accounts in Selangor, in the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. "
* National Statistics Department
The treatment takes place in reserves from raw water sources. As far as I know, Air Selangor is not currently qualified to manage the raw water sources itself.
What it can do is treat these raw water sources and distribute the treated water to its many customers.
Therefore, if the raw water sources are already primarily contaminated, there is little Air Selangor can do other than adequately monitor and treat the water.
2. They weren't the ones to pollute the river
If you're really looking for who to piss off at, check out the factories and their management that have purposely polluted various rivers in Malaysia.
Get even angrier at those who are repeat offenders.
Air Selangor does not own these factories or have direct authority to oversee the operation of these factories.
3. "Tell us in advance before you watercuts!" Hi how?
As mentioned earlier, Air Selangor is not the one polluting the rivers our water comes from.
Then how can they predict when an irresponsible factory would decide to pollute our precious rivers?
I am willing to bet these factories won't call Air Selangor ahead of time to say, "For your information, we will be dropping some chemicals in Sungai (name) ETA 9:45 pm on Oct 5th, 2020."
4th The water cuts are there for a reason
We have now established that Air Selangor is not responsible for the pollution and therefore cannot predict when such incidents can occur.
Despite my own anger, I still feel gratitude for Air Selangor's efforts.
The water cuts are made for one crucial reason: to make sure we are not consuming or using water that could potentially harm us through ingestion or skin contact.
When I think about it like that, I don't think it's fair for me to stay upset at Air Selangor about the water cuts.
I believe that responsible companies who care about their customers would also prefer not to poison them.
5. Air Selangor has no authority to punish criminals
Since Air Selangor is not authorized to impose penalties on environmentally harmful offenders, this responsibility rests with the relevant authorities and ministries.
If you want tougher penalties for these offenders (especially repeated ones), you can direct your complaints to the Department of the Environment (DoE).
Change has to happen, but being angry at Air Selangor won't help
From my point of view, here are some suggestions to handle this incident and prevent future ones.
1. We should inform not only the factories but also our public in general about how not to pollute and what the effects of pollution are.
Yes, I know we all found out about it at some point in our lives, but I believe the way it's taught isn't radical enough. We don't feel the effects.
We are not afraid of the effects. If we do this, it will only be a short time before we forget it again.
Our pollution may not be as devastating as that of businesses, but I think we have a responsibility to tackle pollution cumulatively at all levels, from household to industrial.
2. Factories and other large companies with the potential to pollute our environment should attend mandatory awareness workshops or courses.
Perhaps a compliance checklist could be created and they would have to meet at least the minimum criteria to “pass” the class and be certified.
That way, not all would be said or done.
3. Higher fines should be imposed on offenders.
There is currently a minimum fine of 200,000 RM and a maximum fine of 1,000,000 RM.
Wouldn't these fines feel like a slap on the wrist for factories that may have sales above these numbers?
If not, why are there repeat offenders at all?
An even more powerful solution would be to suspend operations for a specified period of time or, in extreme cases, to close it indefinitely until it improves, or just close it permanently.
4th The relevant bodies should also conduct frequent audits and compliance checks, similar to spot checks.
To this end, the government and its ministries should allocate a specific budget for these activities.
5. Ex-Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali suggested that factories operating on river banks must also be relocated and that their operation must first be approved by the DoE.
At the end of Air Selangor, based on the many negative comments, I believe that public uncertainty about the area of responsibility still persists.
6. You could make a public statement on social media that clearly states which actions are under your control and which are not.
Let us now hope that all parties make the right decisions, that such crimes do not occur as often, and that our water supplies are restored soon.
Selected image source: Syafwan Zaidon, MalayMail