PUCHONG, Selangor: Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah will lead a team of Malaysian officials in renegotiating prices of raw water sold to Singapore, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Sunday (Feb 17).
He did not say when or where the talks will take place.
“We are of the view that the price of 3 sen for 1,000 gallons of raw water was decided in 1926.
"At that time, the value of 1 sen could buy a lot of goods, but now with 1 sen we can’t buy anything, even with 3 sen we can’t buy anything," Dr Mahathir told reporters on the sidelines of an event.
The 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.
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.
“By right, price of goods should be current. Today we are not talking about millionaires, but billionaires because income has increased tremendously," said Dr Mahathir on Sunday.
"So, if you think that the price set in 1926 still remains until the year 3000 ... Is it reasonable? "I feel it is unreasonable,” he added.
Last June, Dr Mahathir called the price of water sold to Singapore "ridiculous", adding that Malaysia intended to renegotiate the terms of the water supply deal.
In response, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that both Malaysia and Singapore must "comply fully" with the provisions of the 1962 Water Agreement and the 1965 Separation Agreement.
"The 1962 Water Agreement is a fundamental agreement that was guaranteed by both governments in the 1965 Separation Agreement which was registered with the UN," an MFA spokesperson had said.
Last November, Dr Mahathir and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met in Singapore, where both leaders expressed "differing views on the right to review the price of water under the 1962 Water Agreement".
"They expressed their willingness for officials to have further discussions to better understand each other’s positions," an MFA spokesperson said.