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Padfield, Rory, Tham, Mun Hou, Costes, Sophie and Smith, Laurence (2016) 'Uneven development and the commercialisation of public utilities: a political ecology analysis of water reforms in Malaysia.' Utilities Policy, 40. pp. 152-161.

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Water policy reforms introduced in Peninsular Malaysia have yielded relatively positive improvements in the operational and financial performance of water utilities. This article analyses contemporary water governance in the context of the historical origins of uneven water development in Malaysia and national heterogeneity in the political economy of water provision. The investigation builds on political ecology scholarship in urban water policy and reaffirms postcolonial critiques of neoliberal inspired water reforms in developing countries. Our study analyses the impact of the ‘asset light policy’ – a policy introduced in 2008 with the aim of commercialising public water utilities and centralising water sector investment and ownership. It is found that notwithstanding evidence of improved financial health and technical efficiency in certain states, the asset light policy has accentuated uneven water development across the country. Thus despite the policy’s relatively narrow focus on technical and financial matters, it is shown to have a fundamentally political outcome. This in turn explains the current ‘policy impasse’ in five of the eleven states in Peninsular Malaysia. Furthermore, the omission of environmental considerations within the policy framework is argued to undermine the overall ambition of the policy. It is recommended that water policy makers give greater consideration to the embedded social, political and economic inequalities that characterize many former European colonies.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Finance and Management > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
ISSN: 09571787
Copyright Statement: This record holds the accepted version of the article which is published by Elservier at the DOI above.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 11:12
Related URLs: http://www.scie ... 957178716300327

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