The people of Johor, particularly the state government, should speak up on their rights in relation to the water price agreement, particularly regarding the rate at which water is sold to Singapore, said Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Bernama reported the prime minister as saying at the Johor Government Retreat with Federal Cabinet on Thursday (28 Feb) that it is unreasonable for Singapore, as a developed nation with the per capita income of US$18,000, to continue buying water from a country with per capita income of less than US$10,000 at a price as low as 3 sen per 1,000 gallons decided in 1926.
“Singapore rapidly developed because we have been supplying them with water, but I find the Johorians rarely talk about it,” he said, adding: “They just wait for negotiations to be undertaken by the federal government as if the state government is unaffected.”
Last month, New Straits Times reported Dr Mahathir as saying at the launch of the National Community Policy in Kuala Lumpur that it is “unreasonable” to maintain the current price of 3 sen per 1,000 gallons today, which was determined in 1962.
“Previously, even one sen we can buy many things. But not now, let alone three sen.
“Today, we no longer talk about millionaires, but billionaires as the income level is getting higher,” he observed.
Dr Mahathir predicted in a speech he had delivered in the same event that the prices of goods, including houses, will continue to rise in the years to come.
Yet, he said, “the only thing that will not increase is the price of water sold to Singapore, at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons”.
“At that rate, we cannot even get a (packet of) nasi lemak,” he quipped, inviting laughter from the audience, NST reported.
TODAY Online reported Dr Mahathir as saying: “So, if you think that the price set in 1926 still remains until the year 3000 — another millennium — is it reasonable? I feel it is unreasonable. Until when?”
Dr Mahathir sought to hold negotiations with the Republic on the issue of the water pricing.
“We will try to include people from the Johor government, but Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah will lead the group,” he said.