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Malaysia-Singapore leaders' retreat next week to discuss 'unresolved' issues: PM Mahathir

Malaysia-Singapore leaders' retreat next week to discuss 'unresolved' issues: PM Mahathir

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a press conference on April 5, 2019. (File photo: Bernama)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday (Apr 5) that “unresolved” bilateral issues will be discussed in a “friendly manner”, when he meets Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an upcoming leaders’ retreat.

“All of the things that are still unresolved, including the water problem, the central provident fund, (and) the borderline with our waters. What is Singapore waters? What is Malaysia waters? (Also) the flight over our area, who is going to control it,” he said without elaborating, when asked during a press conference on the agenda for the Apr 8 to 9 meeting.

"All these things will be discussed in a friendly manner. We are not going to confront them. But I believe that even Singapore understand(s) the need to revise the price of water," Dr Mahathir added. 

During a meeting between Mr Lee and Dr Mahathir on Nov 12 last year, both sides expressed their differing views on the right to review the price of water under 1962 Water Agreement.

Singapore has been clear and consistent in its position that Malaysia has lost the right to review the price of water.

The 1962 Water Agreement, which expires in 2061, entitles Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of water from the Johor River.

Singapore pays 3 sen per thousand gallons of raw water and sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per thousand gallons, a fraction of the cost of treating the water.

Johor is meanwhile entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent or 5 mgd of the water supplied to Singapore. In practice, however, Singapore has been supplying 16 mgd of treated water to Johor at its request.

Malaysia has previously acknowledged that it chose not to ask for a review of the agreement in 1987 because it benefited from the pricing arrangement.

Last month, it was announced that the attorneys-general of Singapore and Malaysia will continue discussions to "better understand each other’s position" on the right to review the price of water.

READ: Singapore and Malaysia - The Water Issue

READ: Measures to de-escalate Singapore-Malaysia maritime tension first step in long journey: Vivian Balakrishnan


Dr Mahathir was also asked if Malaysia was looking for more money linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to be repatriated from Singapore.

“We will have to depend on Singapore information. That money was given back after Singapore investigated,” he noted.

“Our job is to receive the money, of course, but to be sure that this money (is) coming from 1MDB. We cannot accept money that is not ours,” he added.

FILE PHOTO: A man covers his mouth as he walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the funds flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb 27, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

A day earlier, he said one reason why Putrajaya has managed to reduce national debt was due to the recovery of “quite a lot of money that was lost, that was kept by Singapore”. He did not give an exact figure.

READ: Malaysia’s debt now more manageable, but government may sell more assets: PM Mahathir

In 2016, Singapore authorities said they seized S$240 million in cash and properties as a result of investigations into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore

Last September, a Singapore court ordered the return of around S$15.3 million to Malaysia. The funds were to be transferred to a special 1MDB recovery account in Kuala Lumpur.

The annual leaders’ retreat was supposed to take place last November, but was postponed. This will be the first leaders' retreat hosted by Pakatan Harapan after it came into power last May.

During the press conference on Friday, Dr Mahathir also announced Malaysia’s withdrawal from ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Source: CNA/na(aw)


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