Why buy treated water from Singapore instead of doing it ourselves? PAS MP asks

Yiswaree Palansamy


PAS lawmaker Awang Hashim questioned the need for Malaysia, which sells raw water to Singapore to be treated, only to buy it back at a higher price. — Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Malaysia should not still have to buy treated water from Singapore for public consumption, PAS lawmaker Awang Solahudin Hashim said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The Pendang MP interrupted Segamat MP Datuk Sri R. Santhara Kumar during the committee stage debate on Budget 2020 to ask why the government was not developing its own raw water filtration and treatment infrastructure, which he said would reduce capital outflows.

“For our use in Johor, why not we process it on our own?” he directed to the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry.

Awang questioned the need for Malaysia, which sells raw water to Singapore to be treated, only to buy it back at a higher price.

“So we want to ask the ministry involved, can the Johor government, Air Johor, only sell water to Singapore, for Singapore’s use. No need for us to buy back,” he asked.

In August, Bernama reported Water, Land and Natural Resources minister Datuk Dr A. Xavier Jeyakumar saying that he expects Johor to no longer rely on the treated water supply from Singapore by 2022.

He reportedly said that the effort to reduce the said dependency was by ensuring treated water in Johor was sufficient.

Dr Xavier said that for this purpose, new water plants need to be built in Johor, with a daily capacity reaching 260 million litres.

He added that the idea would however, not affect the standing Water Agreement 1962, signed with Singapore.

In February, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged the Johor government and those in the state, to speak up against what he felt was a lopsided and “morally wrong” water agreement with Singapore.

At the opening of a discussion session between Johor government officers and members of the federal government, the Langkawi MP who is a staunch critic of the 1962 Water Agreement, termed Singapore as a “rich country” profiting off a poor country, that is Malaysia.

He claimed that Singapore has also been making a cool profit by pricing its desalinated water highly, but still only pay Malaysia three cents.

He said that Singapore only managed to reach its current stature owing to Johor’s water supply.

The issues surrounding the agreement between the two countries was thrust back into the limelight last year, after Dr Mahathir remarked that the price of raw water sold to Singapore did not make sense, announcing his plan to re-negotiate agreement’s terms.

The agreement ends in 2061, and allows Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of raw water from Sungai Johor, at only RM0.03 per 1,000 gallons.

Johor then buys treated water from the island republic at RM0.50 per 1,000 gallons.

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