Dr M: Singapore more open to discuss water deal now

Zurairi Ar
Dr Mahathir Mohamad addresses the Malaysian diaspora in Singapore at a high tea event in Shangri-La Hotel November 12, 2018. — Picture courtesy of Information Department Malaysia

SINGAPORE, Nov 12 — The Singapore government is more open to discussing several recurring issues with Malaysia, including the water deal, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today following a bilateral talk with his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong earlier.

The prime minister said the Singapore government still opposes reviewing the water deal, but is now willing to argue its case rather than rejecting any talks outright.

“I think by and large he was quite accommodating. I think he’s much more open to discuss these things than before,” Dr Mahathir told the press after a high-tea event with the Malaysian diaspora here.

Dr Mahathir said officials from both sides will now start discussions on the matter.

He, however, refused to comment as to whether other issues such as the “crooked bridge” or the High-Speed Rail project would be discussed as well.

In August, the prime minister reportedly said he was considering raising the price of water sold to Singapore by more than 10 times to reflect the rising cost of living.

Dr Mahathir said Johor sold water to Melaka at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons — a rate he described as “charitable” as it was a domestic deal — compared to a decades-old treaty between Malaysia and Singapore in which Malaysia sells water to its southern neighbour at 3 sen per thousand gallons and purchases treated water at 50 sen per thousand gallons.

Dr Mahathir is on a two-day official visit to Singapore, and will be attending the Asean Summit 2018 this week.

This morning, Dr Mahathir called on Singapore President Halimah Yaacob before holding a bilateral meeting with Lee.

Dr Mahathir will be presenting the Priority Integration Sector award to 13 winners this evening at the Asean Business Awards 2018 Gala Dinner.

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