State govt studying legal framework with eye on setting up single water authority in two years’ time

Abang Johari (second right) addressing a press conference after launching BIWWEC 2022. Also seen are (from right) Julaihi, Dr Sim and Lee.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 18: The plan to establish a single water authority to operate and manage water supply throughout the State could materialise within two years as the Sarawak government is currently still conducting a study on the legal framework.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg explained that the main issue is to deal with the legal structure to regulate and operate within certain parameters under the water ordinance.


“Currently, there are several water authorities in Sarawak including Kuching (Kuching Water Board), Sibu (Sibu Water Board), Laku (Laku Management Sdn Bhd) and JBALB (Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department). They have their own planning, so we have to consolidate them under a single water authority.

“Secondly, we also need to take care of our water bodies including lakes and dams like Bakun and Murum. We need an authority to regulate it,” he told a media conference after officiating at the Borneo International Water and Wastewater Exhibition and Conference (BIWWEC) 2022 at Imperial Hotel here today.

When pressed to give a timeline for the single water entity to be set up, Abang Johari said it would not take long as the model would be similar to that of Sarawak Energy Berhad which operates and regulates the electricity supply in Sarawak.

“We are now innovating and our people (experts) are looking into the legal aspect of it. It won’t take long, perhaps within two years as it is a statutory body and needs to merge all the other water authorities,” he said.

Giving further assurance, Abang Johari added that as long as Gabungan Parti Sarawka (GPS) remains as the government-of-the-day, “we will implement the plans”.

“Honestly, we need leaders who are visionary to execute plans without over-politicking everything,” he said.

With a State water grid in place to deliver water supply throughout Sarawak, the Premier pointed out that a huge investment will be required considering the need for new and advanced technology in the long run.

“We hope the federal and Sarawak governments can work together. So far, the State government has invested more than RM4 billion for the last three years to bring water to the people as well as for other functions.

“We are not relying (solely) on the federal government as they are a little slow. Fortunately, we have some means of doing it based on our financial modelling, including for electricity supply,” he added.

Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin, Deputy Minister of Utility Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi and Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department director Ir Chang Kuet Shin were among those present.

BIWWEC 2022 is a three-day conference featuring notable speakers, workshops, panel discussions, networking sessions, site tour programmes and more.

With the theme “Sustainability and Resilience Through Smart Technology and Innovation”, the fifth edition of BIWWEC this year has a special focus on creating active solutions and synergistic efforts to overcome challenges of water and wastewater needs in Borneo. — DayakDaily