Johor crown prince calls Singapore “a friend” amid Singapore’s water tensions with Mahathir

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Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the crown prince of Johor, thanked Singapore for helping Johor during its drought seasons, in social media last night.

Calling Singapore a “neighbour and a friend,” the crown prince took to the Facebook and Twitter pages of the football club he owns – the Johor Southern Tigers – to thank the little red dot and added, “we have always helped each other…May the close ties and friendship forged hundreds of years ago last forever.”

The crown prince’s remarks come on the back of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s indication last week that his government will possibly look into the “manifestly ridiculous” price of the water Malaysia sells to Singapore.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Dr Mahathir singled out water as one of the issues Singapore and Malaysia need to iron out as he revealed, “they are still paying 3 sens for 1 thousand gallons. And once the 1000 gallons is returned we can buy back 12 per cent of that. At the same time they can sell 100 gallons for 17 Singapore Dollars. That is a lot of money.”

The Malaysian leader’s comments prompted Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assert that Malaysia must “comply fully” with the water agreements it has struck with Singapore. Dr Mahathir later said that it is not urgent to review the matter now and added that the Pakatan Harapan government has not discussed about the issue yet.

Despite his indication that Malaysia does not have an official stance on the matter at the moment, Dr Mahathir’s comments ruffled the feathers of several prominent figures here.

Former Singapore Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan said that Dr Mahathir is raising water issue as a diversionary tactic for cancelling the High Speed Rail project between Singapore and Malaysia. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu shared the ex-Ambassador’s comments on Facebook, with the caption “Understanding Mahathir.”

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan followed suit with another indirect response and shared a Facebook video on why water is sacrosanct in Singapore.

Meanwhile, some netizens responding to Johor’s crown prince’s social media posts have opined that the the prince’s affirmation of the relationship between Singapore and Johor is a political play aimed at undercutting the Malaysian federal government:

The vast majority of netizens, however, have praised the crown prince and have even expressed hopes for a merger between Singapore and Johor: