JOHOR BARU - The Johor branch of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), the party led by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has asked Singaporeans to urge their government to review the water supply agreement between the two countries.
"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," said Johor PPBM media director Mohd Solihan Badri in a statement issued on Wednesday (March 6), the Malay Mail reported.
He was referring to the 1962 Water Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore, under which 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, while 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. Singapore has in practice been supplying 16mgd of treated water at Johor's request. The agreement expires in 2061.
"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?" Mr Mohd Solihan said.
His comments come days after Tun Dr Mahathir urged Johoreans to speak up on the "morally wrong" water deal, questioning how a "rich nation" like Singapore could pay "such an unreasonable rate" for raw water from Malaysia, a poorer country.
Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan described Dr Mahathir's comments as a "red herring" last Friday (March 1) in Parliament, saying they were "strong, emotive words, no doubt intended to rouse public opinion".
Singapore also reiterated that all parties must adhere to the terms of the water agreement after Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian said last Friday that the state plans to be self-sufficient in treated water instead of relying on Singapore.
Mr Mohd Solihan said in his Wednesday statement that Singaporeans know well that water has become such a precious commodity, and that climate change has affected Malaysia's water resources, resulting in frequent water shortages for Malaysians.
"After 57 years, we cannot still sell a precious commodity like this (water) at the dirt cheap rate of three Malaysian sen (one Singapore cent) per 1,000 gallons of raw water to Singapore.
"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.
He said such a deal does not augur well for the good relations, anchored on mutual trust and respect, that Malaysians and Singaporeans have enjoyed through the years.