KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been consistent in its stand on the pricing of raw water supply to Singapore and never accepted Singapore’s offer of 45 sen or 60 sen per 1,000 gallons despite contrary claims by the republic.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a letter to Singapore dated Feb 21, 2001, stated that Johor was agreeable to revisions in the price of raw water that it now supplied to Singapore and the treated water that it bought from Singapore.
“The price of raw water that it sells to other Malaysian states should not be a basis for determining the price of raw water (for Singapore). There are elements of subsidies to this supply,” said Dr Mahathir in the letter.
NEAC in the booklet Water: The Singapore-Malaysia Dispute, The Facts said: “Nowhere in the letter does Dr Mahathir suggest that the 60 sen should be applicable after 2011. The price should be reviewed every five years.”
It added that in reply to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s letter dated Sept 21, 2001, Dr Mahathir in his reply on Oct 18, 2001, had clearly stated the need to move on and that the removal of all impediments to the bilateral relations was only possible when each side was fully satisfied that it had secured a fair price and reasonable deal.
NEAC said: “Malaysia’s stand has always been consistent. There is no discrepancy between the two letters by Dr Mahathir. Nor have the goal posts changed.”
This was in response to Singapore’s claim that Malaysia had repeatedly reneged and “shifted the goal posts”.
Singapore claimed that at a meeting on Aug 15, 2000, Dr Mahathir and Lee had agreed on 45 sen in return for Malaysia agreeing to sell water to Singapore beyond the expiry of the current agreements.
However, the NEAC booklet said Malaysia’s non-acceptance of Singapore’s offer was supported by an article written by the then political correspondent of Singapore’s Straits Times, Irene Ng, presently Singapore Member of Parliament, on Aug 16, 2000.
Headlined, Singapore–KL pact’s success hinges on details, Ng wrote:
“The details they (Lee and Dr Mahathir) have to tackle include the price of water under the current agreement and the ratio of raw to treated water beyond 2061.”
The booklet also states that Lee himself confirmed the lack of agreement on price in a letter dated Aug 24, 2000, written nine days after meeting Dr Mahathir.
Lee wrote to then Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin: “To make it easier for us to write to each other, to test various options, all notes or letters I send to you or Mahathir, or vice-versa, will be treated as Without Prejudice: that there is no agreement until all points are agreed and signed by the two PMs.”
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Official sites to download the booklet
Download from Star Online (Quick version)The water dispute booklet in pdf format (similar content but does not reflect the official print format)
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