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Dr Mahathir posted up a piece on the Johor-Singapore water agreements. Somehow, to me, it seems his argument is less of an indictment on Singapore and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government, and more of an indictment of the failure of Dr Mahathir.

In 1961, Malaya and Singapore signed a water agreement, giving Singapore the right to draw up 86 million gallons of water per day from Tebrau and Scudai rivers, as well as Pontian and Gunung Pulai reservoirs. In 1962, another supplementary agreement was signed, giving Singapore the right to 250 million gallons of raw water per day from Johore river. In both agreements, Singapore agreed to pay 3 Malaysian cents per 1,000 gallons and to supply Johore with treated water for 50 Malaysian cents. Also, most crucially, Singapore agreed to bear the infrastructural cost throughout the period of the treaties.

Both agreements gave an option for price review after 25 years – Singapore asserted that review can only be demanded at that 25-year point, while Malaysia asserts that review can be invoked at at point after 25 years . Since September 2001, Malaysia have been demanding that the price of raw water be increased – to 30 Malaysia cents up to 2007 (retroactively applied to the 1986 and 1987), and RM3 per 1,000 gallons after 2007.

Even if Malaysia had the right to review, any new price required mutual agreement – Mahathir’s government demanding an absurd price made any separate water resolution impossible.

To further compound Mahathir government’s failure to reach a new water deal, Singapore offered to pay 45 Malaysian cents for 1,000 gallons of water as part of a package of other bilateral issues. In October 2002, Malaysia took the water deal out of the package of bilateral issues. This further made it harder for Malaysia and Singapore to compromise on both the water issue as well as a host of other bilateral issues. Moreover, Mahathir government’s refused to discuss the extension of the 1962 water agreement – they said that Malaysia is only willing to start talking about it two years before the water deal expires in 1962.

Why should Singapore agree to pay significantly more on water when they get absolutely nothing in return? Instead, Singapore intends to let the 1961 agreement lapse in 2011: with NEWater, the Tuas desalination plant, as well as the addition of Marina Resevoir to the list of Singapore water catchments, they don’t need that water agreement. For Johor, the amount of cheap treated water will reduce dramatically in 2011. Johor will also have to take over the operations and maintenance of the the 1961 agreement’s infrastructure.

Certainly, even under Mahathir’s price of raw water, Malaysian raw water will still be cheaper than self-sufficiency: but capitulating to Mahathir’s demand sets a negative precedent on Singapore. Because of Mahathir’s inability to compromise, unreasonableness and impatience with Singapore, Singapore and Malaysia is stuck in a lose-lose situation.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Rishyakaran blames Malaysia’s Mahathir for the stalled negotiations between Singapore and Malaysia Why should Singapore agree to pay […]

  2. […] Rishyakaran blames Malaysia’s Mahathir for the stalled negotiations between Singapore and Malaysia Why should Singapore agree to pay […]

  3. […] Rishyakaran dia manakiana an'i Mahathir avy any Malezia ho nampikatso ny fifampidinihana teo amin'i Singapore sy Malaysia Nahoana i  Singapore no […]

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