SPAN chief: Gov’t should prioritise water as national security concern

NATIONAL Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairperson Charles Santiago has urged the government to prioritise water as part of national security concerns to safeguard the country against the uncertainties of climate change.

The former Klang MP emphasised the need to allocate substantial funds to the water sector, highlighting its pivotal role in mitigating the challenges posed by climate change.

“The Budget 2024 allocates RM1.1 bil for infrastructure development in Sabah, Labuan, and Kelantan. However, the building of five littoral combat ships cost RM11.9 bil despite us not being at war.

“If the water sector gets a thumping RM11.9 bil, tremendous gains—reducing NRW (non-revenue water), pushing towards reclaimed water, cleaning rivers, and developing other water infrastructure—can be achieved,” Charles said at the Water & Water Resources forum organised by Ensearch yesterday (Nov 2).

Charles Santiago

Moreover, Charles stressed that ensuring an adequate and clean water supply could serve as a major attraction for foreign investors and new businesses, such as data centres, potentially boosting the country’s economic growth.

“Existing companies are departing Malaysia due to inadequate water resources. By making water a national security priority, we are protecting the country against the uncertainties of climate change.

“Such a decision to make water part of national security concerns is mainly because time is running out in the face of extreme weather conditions,” he said, adding that companies must also focus on water conservation and elevate water’s priority in ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) strategies.

“Rainwater harvesting, reclaimed water, and efficient water machinery—no plastic use—can all help to ensure that water is used efficiently. We need to save water in the same way we save energy.” – Nov 3, 2023


Main photo credit: Big Issue

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