JOHOR BARU • Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has thanked the Singapore Government for helping the Malaysian state during droughts.
Calling Singapore "a neighbour and a friend", Tunku Ismail said in a tweet on his official JohorSouthernTigers account on Thursday: "Thank you to the Singaporean Government for helping Johor during the drought seasons & when we had our water crisis. We have always helped each other. May the close ties & friendship forged hundreds of years ago last forever."
His tweet came as the Malaysian government said it planned to renegotiate the 1962 water supply deal with Singapore.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had, in recent interviews, criticised the deal as "too costly", and said that Malaysia would approach Singapore to renegotiate the terms of the deal.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the 1962 treaty was guaranteed by both governments in the Separation Agreement, which was registered with the United Nations when Singapore broke away from Malaysia in 1965, and that both sides must comply fully with all the provisions of these agreements.
In 2016, Singapore's national water agency PUB supplied additional potable water - of up to 22 million gallons daily - to Johor after water levels in the southern state's dam hit all-time lows owing to the dry weather.
Under the 1962 Water Agreement, PUB is entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons of water from the Johor River daily. In return, Johor is entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent - or 5 million gallons - of the raw water it supplies to Singapore.
Social media users mostly welcomed Tunku Ismail's comments, which were also posted on his official Facebook page.
Facebook user Vicknesh Rajamohan said: "Class act Your Highness. A true inspiration of how a leader should conduct (himself). Wisdom is not in age but in actions, and you have shown your wisdom."
Netizen Nasrulhadi Noh posted: "Many forget that during the July 2016 drought, Singapore supplied an additional 6 million gallons of water a day to Johor. That is what neighbours are for."
Some, however, asked why Johor could supply water to Singapore, but could not collect and treat enough water for its own citizens, who undergo intermittent water rationing in towns like Muar. A Mohd Nizam wrote: "Johor sells water to SG... SG citizens never had problems with water (supply). But the country where the water comes from has water problems everywhere."
Others said the Prince's praise for Singapore was actually an indirect attack on Tun Dr Mahathir for wanting to renegotiate the water deal.
Wrote Azhar Latif: "TMJ (Crown Prince)'s statement has a deeper meaning that will redden the ears of Tun (Mahathir)."