Water Disruption Amidst Covid-19 Movement Control Order in Malaysia: The Historical and Legal Analysis

Conference: The European Conference on Arts & Humanities (ECAH2022)
Title: Water Disruption Amidst Covid-19 Movement Control Order in Malaysia: The Historical and Legal Analysis
Stream: Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Khairunnizam Muhamad Ideres, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Ainee Adam, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Sarah Tan Yen Ling, University of Malaya, Malaysia


Serious water supply disruption caused by river pollution becomes common in Malaysia during the Movement Control Order in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Ironically, while water supplies are under the Federal government, water resources are under the State government. Hence, it gives a challenge for the Federal government to act as it will encroach into the states’ jurisdiction. Therefore, the purpose of this article is twofold: (1) to shed light on the issue of jurisdiction over water in Malaysia by tracing the historical development of the early water law, specifically, the Waters Enactment 1920, which took place during the British Empire in the Federated Malay States (FMS); and (2) to discuss legislative powers of the Federal and State government over water, pre-and post-federation of Malaysia. A qualitative method is adopted by analysing documents including government gazettes and court cases. The findings indicate that the Waters Act 1920 remains the law for the FMS and is only applicable to certain states in Malaysia. Additionally, the British influence in the administration of the states that make up contemporary Malaysia has resulted in introducing water as a subject matter of the states into the Constitution. Thus, in dealing with water disruption issue, the National Land Council may be consulted as it is constitutionally established and decisions made are binding upon both governments. The main contribution of this article has been to gain an insight into the reasons behind water jurisdiction which has not been explored in the same depth in the existing literature."

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