Is there a link between the Malaysia-Singapore water row and the
water treatment plants contract given to a business tycoon in Johor?
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
The recent water row between Malaysia and Singapore has been blown
out of proportion following heated arguments and media advertising campaigns
published by the two governments.
The question of rip-off does not arise because both countries stand to
benefit from the water agreements signed in 1961 and 1962. The price of raw
water at 3 sen per thousand gallons in exchange for clean water at 50 sen
per thousand gallons should not be seen as unfair, as the cost of cleaning
per thousand gallons is around RM 2.40.
Ask any engineer working with any water treatment plant should be able to
ascertain this fact.
It is wrong and counter-productive on the part of the government leaders to
blow up the controversy to the extent of severing the close and symbiotic
ties between the two neighbouring countries.
In the event of Singapore stop buying raw water from Malaysia, Singapore
would have to turn to Indonesia or other alternatives such as NEWater and
desalination. Singapore would need to spend millions on laying new
pipelines to link up with Indonesian waterways. The costs of NEWater and
desalination process were reported as in the region of more than RM6 per
Malaysia has nothing to gain from stop selling raw water because Malaysia
will cease to enjoy the right to buy clean water at a discounted price from
Singapore. Johor will then need to process its own water at a cost no less
than RM2.40 per thousand gallons.
In fact, the Johor State government must have anticipated this
development. It has gazetted (on June 5, 2003) that the price of water to
the Johorians will be increased by 30% effective from July 1 this year. It
looks certain now that Johorians will have to pay for the higher cost of
water treatment, whether Malaysia wins or loses in the recent water war.
On the other hand, it was reported last week in the press that a business
tycoon was given a contract to build 14 water treatment plants in Johor.
Would this explain why the Singapore-Malaysia water row was blown out of
proportion, so as to justify the need for Johor to do its own water
treatment? This is not far-fetched and personalities like Johor MB, PM
Malaysia and the business tycoon who was awarded with the contract may be
in a better position to explain.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary