JOHOR BAHRU: The Johor chapter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia on Wednesday (Mar 6) appealed to Singaporeans to urge their government to review the prices of the water deal with Malaysia, reiterating that the agreement is “morally wrong”.
The media director of Bersatu’s Johor chapter Mohd Solihan Badri was quoted as saying by Malay Mail: “Surely, your conscience will tell you that this is a raw deal for the people of Malaysia and especially Johoreans, many of whom may be your own family members.
“Do you not feel guilty that you are enjoying drinking water that you have bought so cheaply from your kin?
“I appeal to the people of Singapore to take cognisance of this fact and voice to their government how morally wrong it is to benefit from our goodwill through such a lopsided agreement.”
Mr Mohd Solihan, who is also the assemblyman for Tenang, added that Malaysia has been suffering frequent water shortages due to climate change.
Malaysia cannot continue selling water at the “dirt cheap rate” of 3 sen per thousand gallons, he added.
“It is even more ludicrous that we are buying back this treated water from Singapore at the rate of 50 sen per 1,000 gallons,” he said.
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, Singapore has been supplying 16 mgd of treated water to Johor at its request.
READ: Singapore, Malaysia met in December for water talks but discussions 'overshadowed by new issues': MFA
Last week, Dr Mahathir urged the Johor government and its people to speak up on what he described as the "morally wrong" water deal with Singapore, a "rich" nation.
“The state government must make their voices heard. The rich are depending on the poor?" Dr Mahathir said. "This is not only illogical but also morally wrong. We must put stress on this issue."
READ: Johor crown prince claims 'sovereignty' over water in the state, prefers ‘no federal interference’ on the issue
Last Friday, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament that Dr Mahathir’s comments were a “red herring” and “strong, emotive words” that were intended to rouse public opinion.
“The 1962 Water Agreement is not about who is richer or poorer," Dr Balakrishnan said. "It is about the fundamental principle of respecting the sanctity of agreements."
The Johor state government has also said that it plans to be self-sufficient in treated water instead of relying on Singapore.
On Sunday, a spokesperson from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it noted Johor’s plans to increase its capacity to produce treated water to meet its own needs.
"This does not affect Singapore’s position that all parties, including Johor, must honour the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement, which no party can unilaterally change,” the spokesperson added.