Deal more than about sale of water

The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor. Under the 1962 Water Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore, the Republic is entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons a day of raw water from the Johor River, at three sen per 1,000 gallons. The agreement expires i
The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor. Under the 1962 Water Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore, the Republic is entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons a day of raw water from the Johor River, at three sen per 1,000 gallons. The agreement expires in 2061.ST FILE PHOTO

Perhaps Malaysia may have a case for a price review of the 1962 Water Agreement with Singapore if all the latter had done over the last 57 years was buy 250 million gallons of raw untreated water every day for three sen per 1,000 gallons (Bersatu: S'poreans should urge govt to review water pact, March 7).

Unfortunately, that historic deal is not simply about the sale and purchase of raw untreated water.

It is also about how Singapore continues to supply much more than its daily commitment of five million gallons of treated water to Johor at a steep 75 per cent discount from the RM2.40 cost price to treat every 1,000 gallons of water, as well as the Republic's cumulative expenditure and investment in the water infrastructure of Johor and Malaysia.

If politicians such as Johor Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia media director Mohd Solihan Badri and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad can begin to understand basic economics, including why there is a discernible difference between the cost of dirty untreated water and the price of its clean treated version, Malaysia should become better for it as a country.

Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relations deserve to be far richer than politicians' attempts at emotional blackmail based on so-called "kinship".

There is no reason why a newly progressive Malaysia that is keen to take our ties to new highs cannot benefit from Singapore's drive to make water out of nothing for itself, and even the world.

Singapore is an ideal location to try and harness water out of thin air by exploiting the dehumidification of our environment on a massive scale in new and cost-effective ways.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Deal more than about sale of water'. Print Edition | Subscribe