KUALA LUMPUR: It is timely Malaysia and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on water resources today, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
He said cooperation between the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry (NRE) and the Water Resources Ministry of China, was previously via a committee set up by the United Nations in 1968 known as the Typhoon Committee.
“The MoU is now a formal cooperation between the two countries in water resources and it is the best opportunity for Malaysia to acquire expertise from China.
“Among the technology and expertise which could be shared by both countries via the MoU is integrated water resources management, conservation and protection of water resources, adaptation to climate change, flood control and drought management,” he told a press conference after signing the MoU with China’s Water Resources Minister, Chen Lei.
According to him, the sharing of expertise and technology would ensure sustainable socio-economic development with more environmentally friendly management of water usage to combat the effects of climate change.
"The MoU also serves as a platform for technical and research cooperation between agencies in water resources management and research of both countries," he added.
Wan Junaidi said Malaysia was actually not facing water shortage but its water distribution infrastructure needed improvement.
"Integrated water management should be established throughout the country in the administration at central level to district level to ensure water distribution reaches all parties," he said.
However Wan Junaidi said financial constraints were among the problems faced by the Drainage and Irrigation Department in the effort to put integrated water management in the country in place.
The matter differed from China which has huge financial resources to manage water, he said before attending a meeting with Chen Lei.
"China has the budget to manage water. Funding for water projects is usually provided interest-free.
"As such, we need to review the budget allocation so that we could channel water to all parties and develop integrated water management," said Wan Junaidi who is also the Santubong MP.
He also proposed banks create special funds or loan programmes for interested infrastructure companies to develop the water management infrastructure in Malaysia.
He said the government had approved about RM1.8 billion for NRE and 80 per cent was allocated to DID.
"So you can see how large is the budget needed to improve our water management," he added.
The MoU signing ceremony was held in conjunction with the four-day working visit of Chen Lei to Malaysia beginning Saturday.
The minister from China also visited the SMART Tunnel control centre accompanied by Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Dr Hamim Samuri for a first hand look of the facility. -- Bernama