Johor assembly hears concerns over Forest City's water supply

A Johor politician told the state assembly that the Johor government had told developer of the Forest City project to source for its own water supply. PHOTO: ST FILE

ISKANDAR PUTERI - A Johor politician told the state assembly on Monday (Nov 27) that the Johor government had told developer of the Forest City project to source for its own water supply.

Tengku Putra Haron Aminurrashid Tengku Hamid Jumat, an assemblyman for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying that if Forest City does not get its own supply from desalination or by other means, it could spark a water crisis in Johor.

This was the first time that the issue of how Forest City would get its water supply was raised, with the government assemblyman using unusually blunt language.

The giant project involves the raising of four man-made islands totalling 1,386 ha in the Johor Strait facing Tuas.

The project is majority owned by China's Country Garden Holdings. Its other shareholders are the Johor government and Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

When fully completed, it is meant to house some 700,000 people.

Datuk Tengku Putra said the project, when completed, would require more than 600 million cubic meters of water daily.

This was almost equal to the amount supplied daily to Johor Baru city and its neighbouring Pasir Gudang district, Bernama quoted him as saying.

"I understand that the state government has conveyed this decision (of water supply) to the developer. Forest City has to draw water from a desalination process or through other mechanisms deemed fit," he was quoted as saying.

"This will allow the state government to accord priority to domestic households," he said, adding that rumours were rife that Forest City would obtain water supply from the state's main water company SAJ Ranhill.

He told the state legislature, as reported by Bernama: "If there is truth in the rumour, then this just goes to show the developer's irresponsible attitude and total disregard for the state's government's clear directive to source its own water supply."

He added that Johor residents, totalling 3.6 million people, should not suffer at the expense of the developer's profit-oriented motive which could spark a water crisis.

He said he is concerned that SAJ Ranhill may compromise on domestic household supply.

"I am worried that this can create a very serious water crisis if the issue is not delved into deeply," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Tengku Putra urged the state government to take control of SAJ Ranhill via a mandatory takeover for fear that it may fall into the hands of a foreign party. He did not elaborate.

He suggested that the state government, which had cash reserves close to RM4 billion (S$1.31 billion), acquire SAJ Ranhill from its majority shareholder Ranhill Holdings.

"It's possible that the major shareholder may sell SAJ Ranhill to a foreign party. If that happens, we will lose control of not only our water industry but our national sovereign asset," Bernama quoted him as saying.

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