KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will now ask Singapore to pay “more than 60 sen” for every 1,000 gallons of raw water, a price that is higher than what the republic originally asked for, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
The Prime Minister said Malaysia had initially proposed 60 sen and Singapore offered to pay 45 sen.
“But now they (Singapore) have reduced it to 12 sen, so now I think we should increase ours (to more than 60 sen),” he told reporters after closing the International seminar on Gold Dinar in Multilateral Trades organised by the Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim).
Singapore had recently revised its proposal to 12 sen after Malaysia said it wanted water to be discussed as a separate matter from the bilateral package.
On why it was so difficult for the countries to find a middle ground in the price of water, Dr Mahathir said: “Their middle ground is to suggest 45 sen, our middle ground is 60 sen. Now, they reduce it to 12 sen, so our middle ground would be more than 60 sen.”
Asked whether Malaysia found it insulting that Singapore had offered 12 sen for water now when previously it had offered a lot more, Dr Mahathir said: “This shows they are not keen to settle this.”
He pointed out that Singapore believed that for as long as the water price problem was not settled, it could continue to buy raw water from Malaysia at only 3 sen per 1,000 gallons.
He said Malaysia had given the undertaking that it would always supply Singapore with sufficient water.
“This is water for bathing, drinking and washing but not water to sell and make tremendous profit,” he said, and stressed that Singapore was selling 1,000 gallons of treated water to ships for S$20 (RM40).
“You buy something at three sen, you wash it a little bit and you sell it for RM40. Three sen to RM40, how many per cent is that?
“And they are complaining that we are asking for a price that is 1,000% (increase).”
He dismissed the notion that the latest setback had put the water negotiations back to square one, saying that Malaysia remained “always optimistic” in finding a solution.
He believed the two countries were making progress.
“From three sen to 12 sen, that’s a 400% increase,” he said.
He declined to say how much more Singapore would be asked to pay for water, adding that it was for the country to negotiate the “true price.”
The water agreements signed in 1961 and 1962 provide for a price review after 25 years.