Regret that long-standing  leaders could not resolved outstanding issues between two  countries


Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Friday):  It's most regrettable that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad  and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, being the supreme leaders of  Malaysiaand  Singaporefor  more than two decades, could not resolved long-standing and outstanding issues  and conflicts between the two neighboring countries.

Both PM Mahathir and SM Lee should have made use of their positions and  relationship to work out solutions for outstanding issues such as water,  airspace, KTM land, CPF, Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) and the third causeway, when  the two countries were enjoying friendlier relationship and greater political  stability.

Not only both leaders could not resolve these issues at hand; they were  even seen to play up these issues in the respective countries for political  mileage.

Take the water issue for instance.

Both the government leaders do not give the full picture to their  citizens. Many Singaporeans were not aware that their government was paying 3  sen per thousand gallon of raw water from  Malaysia; and  most Malaysians do not know that  Malaysiawas  getting clean water from  Singaporewith a  discounted price  (Malaysiapays  50 sen per thousand gallons).

Even with the release of a book on the part of  Singapore, and  the current series of advertisements put up by the Malaysian authority,  Singaporeans and Malaysians in general still do not get the real picture of the  conflict. The much talked about book and advertisements do not seem to be helpful for the citizens of the two countries to understand the issue. They only serve to satisfy the ego of the leaders of the two neighbors.

The water issue should not be too difficult to resolve. There exists a willing buyer and willing seller situation.  Malaysia has  plenty of raw water to sell and  Singapore needs  to buy a lot of it from  Malaysia. If our forefathers could reached an agreement before the independence and also in 1961, there is no reason why PM Mahathir and SM Lee could not do the same.

Both governments should stop the media war immediately in the interest of the citizens of both countries. The ordinary citizens should not be paying for price for the animosity kicked up by the government leaders.

Both governments have proven that they can work together in tackling the SARS problem. We urge PM Mahathir and SM Lee to use their influence positively, getting the top leaders of the two countries to return to the negotiation table as soon as possible before our relationship deteriorates to an irrepairable level.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary