Is there a link between the Malaysia-Singapore water row and the water treatment plants contract given to a business tycoon in Johor?


Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): 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 thousand gallons.

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