Dr Mahathir in relentless pursuit of water deal revision with Singapore

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Picture Credit: Youtube grab of river bank

Malaysian PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated his call for a revision of the water deal with Singapore.

Dr Mahathir said he wants to increase the price of raw water supply to Singapore by more than 10 times to reflect the higher cost of living.

In an interview with The Associated Press published on Monday (Aug 13), Dr Mahathir said Johor sells raw water to Melaka at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons. He said this price was “charitable”, adding that “To a foreign country, we need to get more than that,” he said.

Singapore, however, believes the deal should only be reviewed in the future, that is in 2061.

It says in the current water agreement the price at which it is selling the water back to Malaysia that is 50 sen per 1,000 gallons is heavily subsidised and below the cost of treating the water.

It is buying the water at 3 sen Malaysia or 1 Singapore sen per thousand gallons of raw water.

Singapore is also sticking to a plan in which Malaysia should have reviewed the price way back in 1987.

Talks between the two countries on the water issue took place when then Prime Minister, Dr Mohamad who was in his first stint in power, raised the issue in 1998. The talks did not result in a new pact but Dr Mahathir is not letting go of the need for a revised pricing this time around.

Dr Mahathir appears bent on making his comeback a painful one for Singapore, in particular.

He criticised the 1962 water deal as “too costly” and “ridiculous”, and said Malaysia would approach Singapore to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

This brought the Singaporean government to retaliate, saying the deal should wait for the next round of revision that is in 43 years time.

Malaysia is also not listening to Singapore saying it has remained clear and consistent in its position over the water deal.

The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also said Malaysia lost its right to review the price of water under the 1962 Water Agreement in 1987.

Malaysia, nevertheless, believes the content of the agreement can be reviewed after every 25 years.