Malaysia to stop relying on Singapore for treated water

We want Johor to have zero dependency on treated water from S’pore, says minister

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Malaysia has subsidised over RM2.4 billion in the form of raw water supplied to Singapore since the two countries signed the 1962 agreement, according to Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (picture).

He told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that Malaysia has provided a minimum subsidy rate of an estimated RM42 million each year to Singapore or about RM2.4 billion since the signing of the Water Agreement.

“That’s about RM100,000 each day. This is the minimum rate that we subsidise. It is true that we are selling at a much lower price compared to the treated water we buy from them, which is much more expensive,” said Saifuddin responding to a supplementary question from Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (GPS-Santubong), who asked if any form of subsidies was involved in the selling of water to Singapore.

Saifuddin said the federal administration would work with the Johor state government to eliminate dependency on Singapore for treated water supply.

“We want Johor to have zero dependency (on treated water) from Singapore. However, if Singapore refuses to negotiate, we will have to bring this matter to the arbitral tribunal,” Saifuddin said, in reply to a supplementary question by Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang) who queried Putrajaya’s next move should Singapore refuse to negotiate.

Under the 1962 Water Agreement, which expires in 2061, Singapore is entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of raw water from the Johor River at three sen per 1,000 gallons (3,785.41 litre).

Johor is entitled to buy 5mgd of treated water from Singapore at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons. Singapore has said this price is heavily subsidised and below the cost of treating the water.

Malaysia also claims that it has given subsidies at a minimum rate of RM42 million a year to Singapore, or at least RM2.4 billion to date, or about RM100,000 a day.

“This is at a minimum rate from the start of the agreement until now. As you said, we are selling them at such a cheap price, but buying at such an expensive rate. There are many technicalities involved. We will issue a comprehensive statement,” Saifuddin said.