Singapore, Malaysia hold differing views on water issue; willing to discuss further: MFA

Singapore, Malaysia hold differing views on water issue; willing to discuss further: MFA

Mahathir Mohamad shakes hands with PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana Nov 12
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad calls on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana during his official visit on Nov 12, 2018. (Photo: TODAY/Koh Mui Fong)

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday (Nov 12) expressed their differing views on the right to review the price of water under the 1962 Water Agreement, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has said.

In response to a query from Channel NewsAsia, an MFA spokesperson said both leaders had a wide-ranging discussion on bilateral and regional issues.

"Both sides expressed their differing views on the right to review the price of water under the 1962 Water Agreement (62WA)," the spokesperson said. 

"They expressed their willingness for officials to have further discussions to better understand each other’s positions."

READ: Exclusive: Price of water sold to Singapore 'ridiculous'; Malaysia to renegotiate deal, says Mahathir

READ: Singapore and Malaysia: The Water Issue

The Malaysian prime minister is in Singapore on an official visit from Monday to Tuesday, his first official visit since he was elected prime minister in May.

Dr Mahathir told the Bernama news agency on Monday that the 1962 water agreement was one of the matters that was raised during the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Lee.

“We raised some of the issues in the past which were regarded as controversial,” Dr Mahathir told reporters on the sidelines of a high-tea event with the Malaysian diaspora in Singapore.

“I thought I have to state our stand on it. I think by and large, he (Mr Lee) was quite accommodating. He listened to my views and I think he is much more open to discuss these things than before … before they just rejected all efforts at renegotiating,” he said.

READ: Water supply deal with Singapore ‘too costly’, needs to be settled: Malaysia PM Mahathir

When asked further whether Singapore agreed to revise the current price of water, Dr Mahathir said: “They didn’t say they agree but at least they appear to be willing to state their case and for us to state our case.”

As to what will be the next step, he said that some officials will meet and discuss.

Issues on the agreement resurfaced in the middle of this year when Dr Mahathir criticised the price of raw water sold to Singapore as “ridiculous” and said he planned to renegotiate its terms.

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.

Source: CNA/Bernama/zl(ra)

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