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MGG: IWK Engages Debt Collectors
By M.G.G. Pillai

27/6/2001 11:46 pm Wed

[IWK meragam lagi, kali ini ia mengambil khidmat syarikat pengutip hutang untuk mengejar hutang dari pengguna. Tetapi ia tidakpun mengikat apa-apa kontrek dengan isi-rumah untuk khidmat pembentungannya. Sekarang ia mengugut mahu memotong bekalan air jika bil itu tidak dijelaskan. Menurut NST, IWK dibawah pengurusan yang baru mahu mengutip sejumlah RM260juta yang 'dihutang' oleh penggunanya sedangfkan tiada bukti bertulis atau kontrek yang mengizinkan ia berhak mengutipnya.

IWK perlu memberi sebab mengapa rakyat perlu membayarnya sedangkan tiada kontrek antara ia dengan pengguna. Sepatutnya cukai pintu dikurangkan barulah langkah IWK itu boleh diterima. Projek penswastaan telah membebankan pengguna sedangkan perkhidmatannya tidaklah sehebat mana. Amat jarang kita menyaksikan kenderaan dan kakitangan IWK bersimpang-siur di mana-mana. Malah bilnya lebih kerap muncul dari kakitangannya. Ini mesti ada sesuatu yang tidak kena. - Editor]

IWK engages debt collectors

Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK), once in the empire of that internationally known business man of unquestioned repute, one Tan Sri Vincent Tan, is in the news again. It goes without saying that what was once in the great man's domain would no longer be in it, unless it is a fast food restaurant like McDonalds and other cash cows. His empire is on course for protection under the Companies Act. It might be earlier than you think.

IWK was handed down, like an unwanted child, to successive business men who could not turn into the black for two reasons: the price they paid for it was too high and virtually unrecoverable, and IWK assumed that it assumed municipal powers when it acquired privatised municipal services. IWK is yet another privatisation that failed, was not meant to succeed, and has now returned into the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

IWK signed no contracts with householders from whom they demand payment for sewage services. It used thuggish methods to force people to pay, threatening to cut off water supply if sewage bills were unpaid, issuing bills to non-existent residents, and refusing to explain how the charges were arrived at. We still do not know.

So, it is with surprise I learn today -- from the New Straits Times (26 June 01, p5) -- that IWK under new (government) management engages debt collectors to recover RM260 million "owed". From July 1, you are going to be dunned for not paying what you do not owe but IWK insists you do. I have been sent bills in three names, none of which mine, but the sum due are added on to the next. I asked them to show me a contract with IWK for the service it provides. They have yet to.

The IWK customer service, under its previous owners, was there to tell you perdition awaits if you did not pay. If the government orders you to pay, you have no choice but to. There is no need for a contract. When you went higher, you got more convoluted arguments and shorter tempers, and given a lesson in civic consciousness, nationalism and a civic lession in the coming shortage of fresh water. How all this had to do with why I should bills for a service I did not ask for escaped me. But it was easier talking to a brick wall. But they would not tell you why it does not have a contract with me, as I have with the Tenaga Nasional, Telekom Malaysia, Maxis and other service providers.

The IWK chief executive officer, Mr Suhaimi Kamaralzaman, says IWK would have a nationwide campaign on the importance of sewage ... "to stress on how an improper sewage system will affect citizens ... by way of polluting water sources". He would also ask customers to settle their sewage bills. How does he have customers if they have not agreed to be his customers? How did he get them?

I am an IWK customer only if I want to be. Mr Suhaimi cannot insist I am when I am not. If I have an agreement with IWK, fine. If I do not, how do I owe IWK money, even if some cabinet minister or government decide I do? IWK still has not explained why I, and millions of others, must pay it when it does not have a contract with them. Caveat Emptor is still the rule. If you have signed no contract with IWK, you do not owe it anything, whatever it might say. If debt collector harass you, go to the police stations and file a report.

M.G.G. Pillai