Shanmugam says discussed water supply issue with Malaysia at sidelines of Asean meeting

Mr Shanmugam did not reveal any details except that it is of "importance to us" and that it is related to the pricing and tariff for water.
Mr Shanmugam did not reveal any details except that it is of "importance to us" and that it is related to the pricing and tariff for water.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

KUALA LUMPUR - Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam discussed a prevailing issue concerning water supply with his Malaysian counterpart in a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Asean foreign ministers meeting here on Tuesday.

He told reporters it was a follow-up to discussions he raised "months ago". The Prime Ministers of both countries also spoke about the issue during their annual retreat in May.

Mr Shanmugam did not reveal any details except that it is of "importance to us" and that it is related to the pricing and tariff for water.

It is unclear if he was referring to raw water that Singapore buys from Malaysia or raw water that is sold back to Johor.

"I followed up today because it is quite important. He listened and understood our position. It's not quite a breakthrough but we had to say what our position was and we are hoping for certain actions," Mr Shanmugam said, referring to his meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.

When pressed for more information, he said he would reveal the details in Parliament later this month.

Water supply between the two countries have been a thorny issue for decades despite longstanding agreements inked in the early 1960s.

Yesterday, Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the water level at the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor is at an all-time low after a visit to the facility.

Singapore imports water from Johor under the 1962 Water Agreement which expires in 2061. Johor also buys 16 million gallons per day of treated water back from Singapore. 

Mr Shanmugam told Parliament last year that Malaysia has lost the right to review the price of water that it supplies to Singapore under the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement. 

shannont@sph.com.sg