U.S. Water News Online
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia has warned neighboring
Singapore that it risks damaging relations between the two if it
continued to quibble over a long-standing water pricing dispute.
The warning came in a booklet which the government began
distributing to the public, to reject Singapore's claim -- also made
in a booklet -- that Malaysia's demand for an increase in the price
of water it supplies to the island republic was unreasonable.
Malaysia provides Singapore with about half its water and wants to
renegotiate two agreements which date back to the 1920s and expire in
2011 and 2061. But Singapore argues that Malaysia missed its chance
to review prices in the mid-1980s.
Recently, the neighboring countries have been waging a tit-for-tat
public relations campaign.
Over the past week, the Malaysian government printed full-page
advertisements in local and regional newspapers accusing Singapore of
soiling Malaysia's reputation by spreading misconceptions over the
The ad campaign, which has now ended, is estimated to have cost
the government about $526,000.
Malaysia's 20-page booklet titled ``Water: The Singapore-Malaysia
Dispute: The Facts,'' warned Singapore of dire implications if it
continued to haggle.
``By prolonging and continually quibbling ... Singapore risks
damaging its relationship with a neighbor with whom it shares much of
its past,'' the booklet said.
``On a people-to-people basis, the Singapore Government is
depleting a fast-evaporating reservoir of goodwill,'' it said.
The government is selling copies of the booklet at the symbolic
price of $0.01 -- the price Singapore pays per 1,200 gallons of
untreated Malaysia water. The document is also available on
The booklet and advertisements came in response to a Singaporean
booklet titled ``Water talks? If only it could,'' released in March,
which accuses Malaysia of changing its stance in negotiations over
issues such as water prices, border crossing locations and military
Malaysia and Singapore have a touchy relationship despite close
economic and cultural ties. The former British colonies were united
in 1963 but split amid bitter discord two years later. Their usually
cordial ties sometimes turn testy over persistent disagreements.
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