Sunday, March 9, 2014

Water: the three-sen illusion.

The current dry spell affecting Singapore and Malaysia has, ironically, led to water rationing in parts of Malaysia including Johor state which is obliged under a 1962 international treaty (an earlier one has since lapsed) to supply raw (untreated) water to us. Some unhappy Johor politicians have raised the old chestnut -- "Why is Singapore still getting Johor sourced water and at three sen (Malaysian currency) per 1,000 gallons?".

Recently, Singapore's foreign minister gave an update in Parliament (ST, March 7):

The minister emphasised that Malaysia had lost the right to have a review done in 1987 when it took no steps to do so. The expected backlash from across the Causeway did come:

ST (March 8)

TODAY (March 8)

The latest twist seems to be this Star Online report (March 8) which said Johor might have to look to "other sources" for a portion of its treated water supply if both sides ended up reviewing the 1962 pact:

'We have contingency water plan'

That's a big "if" because Singapore has insisted that the moment for a review has passed.

In 2002, I wrote a commentary for TODAY headlined "Three-sen illusion". Reading it again, I think it is still current, aside from the fact that the earlier water pact has since lapsed. My article is available online via the National Library's archives:

This is a screen grab of part of my archived article:

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