KL to act on water issue


  • Nation
  • Monday, 27 Jan 2003

BY SA’ODAH ELIAS

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will push ahead with alternative actions to ensure that it will not lose out following Singapore’s refusal to consider a review of water prices. 

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia would not allow the issue to end with Singapore deciding that it would not pay more for the water supplied to the republic. 

“Water is an important resource. We will not allow it to end like that.  

“We will try to do everything possible to get what is due to us,” he told reporters after chairing the first executive council meeting of the Malaysian Associations of Youth Council for the 2002/2004 term at the J.W. Marriot Hotel here yesterday. 

Syed Hamid declined to disclose the kinds of action being considered by the Government but said that any action taken would be within the context of the agreements signed with Singapore as well as the law of the country. 

Stressing that negotiation was over, he said the Government was looking at options to protect its interests and “now we have to look at how we can exercise our rights. 

“From the start, they have already made up their mind that they are not going to pay more, so we feel that negotiating with Singapore is a waste of time and a useless exercise,” he said. 

He was commenting on Singapore Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar’s statement touching on the water and Pulau Batu Puteh issues during the republic’s special Parliament session on Saturday. 

Asked about Malaysia’s position on going for arbitration over the water issue, Syed Hamid said: “All things involved in the issue are within Malaysia, and there are certain things that are governed by our laws, so we will see.” 

There are clauses in the two water agreements providing for any dispute to be referred for arbitration and the laws of Johor state shall apply. 

On Pulau Batu Puteh, Syed Hamid said Kuala Lumpur would remind Singapore not to try to stop Malaysia from carrying out surveillance in the waters around the island. 

“We will continue with our surveillance in the area because we consider the island ours. Similarly, we will respect Singapore’s right to do the same because of its claim on the island until the matter is resolved by the International Court of Justice. 

“It will look weird if we stop doing so while Singapore continues because the island is nearer to us than to Singapore,” he said. 

Syed Hamid also called on his Singapore counterpart to stop “itemising” grouses about Malaysia. 

“We can also itemise the list of things that Singapore has done that have not helped bilateral relations, but where will this end?” he said. 

It would be better, he said, if Malaysia and Singapore could agree on this as it would open ways for the two countries to co-ordinate their surveillance exercises to prevent unnecessary clashes.  

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