The on-going debate between Malaysia and Singapore over water prices has been a heated issue since Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad took over as Prime Minister and expressed that the decades-old treaty governing the water agreement needed to be revised in order to reflect increases in the cost of living.
Mr Shanmugam expressed in his Facebook post that the link he shared was “Interesting news”, without further commenting on the issue.
Dr Mahathir added that, the southern Malaysian state of Johor sells water to its neighbouring state of Melaka at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons — a rate he described as “charitable” given that it is a domestic deal.
He continued, “To a foreign country, we need to get more than that”.
Other politicians and ministers in Malaysia have expressed sentiments of reviewing the water deal with Singapore.
During his visit here, Malaysia’s new Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on July 30, that there were still opportunities to review the water deal between Singapore and Malaysia.
Minister Saifuddin was still hopeful as he said, “I think proposals and counter proposals can be brought to the table when we have a proper discussion…surely we can continue the discussion”.
The Republic however, expressed that the initial treaty should be honoured until its completion. Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said that Singapore will live up to the agreement and expects Malaysia to do the same.
In a parliamentary speech on July 9, Dr Balakrishnan expressed that Singapore’s water agreements with Malaysia were “the basis for Singapore’s very existence as an independent sovereign state”.
Dr Balakrishnan also added that Malaysia had “lost its right” to review the price of water under the 1962 water agreement in 1987, adding that Malaysia chose not to ask for a review in 1987 “because they benefitted from the pricing arrangement”.
Singaporeans who commented on Minister Shanmugam’s post were furious and expressed that Malaysia was being unreasonable.