Foreign minister says water price dispute with Singapore not about profit but fairness

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during an interview in Putrajaya April 22, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during an interview in Putrajaya April 22, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, April 23 — Negotiations on the price of raw water sold to Singapore must pursue an equitable outcome that does not favour any one side, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He also said international arbitration would be a last resort if the two countries cannot achieve this on their own.

“It’s not a question of who wins and who profits more, but let this be fair. Meaning, the price must match the market rate.

“In the event we make no progress, then the possibility of arbitration arises. But we are not there yet,” he said during a joint interview yesterday ahead of Pakatan Harapan’s first anniversary in power.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this month both countries have agreed to seek an amicable resolution to the dispute, including bringing the matter to the global community.

The prime minister said he broached the topic during the 9th bilateral Leaders’ Retreat with Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, in Putrajaya earlier this month.

Presently, Singapore purchases raw water from Johor at a price of 3 sen/1,000 gal and resells treated water to Malaysia for 50 sen/1,000 gal.

Johor sells raw water to Melaka for ten times what it charges Singapore.

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