Yahoo Poll: Is it fair for Malaysia to hike the price of water it sells to Singapore?

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in June 2018. (File photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

The price of water is of perennial concern to Singapore’s residents.

Soon after Pakatan Harapan won the Malaysian general election in May 2018, hints began dropping that Malaysia would renegotiate the price of water it sells to Singapore, the deal to which dates back to 1962.

Singapore responded to the price hike rumours, saying that Malaysia consciously did not hike the price of water it sells to the Republic when it had the chance to in 1987.

Somewhat reassuringly, Malaysia’s foreign minister said in late July that his country would continue to honour the 1962 deal, saying: “Water is like our nerve system. We honour our nearest neighbour.”

Indeed, even Johor royalty wanted the federal government not to interfere in the deal.

However, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has again revived debate over the price of water, indicating that he wanted to hike the price by more than 10 times. Malaysia currently sells water to Singapore at 3 sen (about S$0.01) per thousand gallons and buys treated water at 50 sen (S$0.17) per thousand gallons.

Mahathir’s reasoning is that Johor sells water at a much higher rate to a fellow Malaysian state (Melaka) at 30 sen per thousand gallons, and Malaysia should be getting much more than that in selling to a foreign country.

Given this imbalance, would it be justified for Malaysia to increase the price of water it sells to Singapore, or should it remain bound by the original agreement? Take our poll, and have your say in the comments.

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