Johor gains from water pacts, says newspaper

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 21 Jan 2003

SINGAPORE: The Straits Times, a newspaper owned by Singapore Press Holdings, charged back at Utusan Malaysia for accusing Singapore of profiting from the water it buys from Malaysia. 

“There is ample evidence that Johor profits from the treated water it gets from Singapore,” said the Straits Times in its comments entitled “What The Paper Didn’t Say” in response to Utusan’s recent articles on the water agreements between Singapore and Malaysia. 

Said the Straits Times: “The paper (Utusan) accuses Singapore of profiting from the water it buys from Malaysia. The basis of this accusation is the price Singapore charges ships that dock in its harbour for the water it supplies them.” 

Water sold to ships, according to the newspaper, accounted for less than 1% of Singapore’s annual consumption, “and there is no reason to assume this water comes from the Johor River, not Pierce Reservoir.” 

Giving Singapore’s side of the story, the Straits Times said under the terms of the 1961 and 1962 agreements, Johor was entitled to buy 15 million gallons of treated water daily, at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons. 

The state had been buying 37 million gallons instead (22 million more than it is entitled to) and selling to its own people at an average price of RM3.95 per 1,000 gallons. 

“As it costs Singapore RM2.40 to treat 1,000 gallons, the Singapore taxpayer in effect subsidises Johor to the tune of RM1.90 per 1,000 gallons, while Johor reaps a profit of RM3.45. 

“It is precisely because of this that the Malaysian Government did not renegotiate water prices in 1986 or 1987, as it was supposed to, not because it felt particularly 'neighbourly', as Utusan says.” 

The newspaper also quoted Johor State Assembly Speaker Zainalabidin Mohamed Zin as saying on July 3 last year that Johor had not erred in not pressing for a review in 1986. 

“There was no point in doing so, he argued, because Johor was dependent on Singapore for its treated water and Singapore would have increased its price if Johor had charged more for raw water.” 

It also quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad as saying on Oct 11 last year that Malaysia had not insisted on a price review in 1986 because Singapore would have revised the price of treated water in response. – Bernama  

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