Yesterday, Bernama quoted the ministry saying that Syabas's ongoing court case against the state government was among the reasons the federal government could not allow the takeover to occur.
"It should not be (the reason). It should be based on efficiency; it should be based on financial management. Both are now questionable," said Santiago (right in photo).
He toldMalaysiakiniwhen contacted that Syabas had repeatedly violated the concession agreement since 2005 when it imported pipes from Indonesia instead of using locally manufactured ones.
It had also violated the agreement when it awarded 72 percent of its contracts via direct negotiation, amounting to RM600 million, he said. The concession agreement stipulated the use of open tenders instead.
He added that these violations have already been documented by the government's own auditors.
Minds blind to reason
"There is a RM700,000 monthly management fee that is paid to (Syabas' parent company) Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd. What exactly those fees are for, only God knows.
"There are many, many ways one could get the impression that financial mismanagement is going on," said Santiago, who is also the coordinator of the NGO Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP).
He argued that the alleged mismanagement, combined with Syabas' inefficiency in distributing water, already provide a sound basis for the Selangor government to ‘retire' the concession agreement.
"But the federal government has not done it and the question is, ‘Why?'" he said, pointing out that action is still to be taken against the concessionaire.
He also accused the federal government of being insincere about facilitating the takeover.
Instead, it chose to cite a court case as the reason for not allowing the takeover to proceed, said Santiago.
"If they are a serious player interested in handing over, then they would have asked those questions.
"If they then tell the Selangor government that it does not fulfil the requirements or there is no expertise in Selangor, then that would be a different ball game," he said.