Malaysia-Singapore water row boils over again | india | Hindustan Times
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Malaysia-Singapore water row boils over again

Malaysia will bring a simmering water dispute with neighbouring Singapore to the boil again in a tit-for-tat publishing duel, a report said on Monday.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2003 12:18 IST

Malaysia will bring a simmering water dispute with neighbouring Singapore to the boil again in a tit-for-tat publishing duel, a report said on Monday.

Kuala Lumpur will produce a book revealing a "true" account of the squabble and rejecting the version put forward by Singapore in a recently-released book entitled: "Water talks? If only it could."

"We must give the true picture. The only one who is unfair and unreasonable is Singapore," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was quoted as saying by the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia.

Malaysia's version would reject all the arguments considered inaccurate in Singapore's book, he said.

"That book does not help strengthen bilateral ties and it is as if they are not interested in establishing a positive relationship," Syed Hamid said.

At the heart of the row is the price paid by tiny and resource-poor but wealthy Singapore for raw water from its large neighbour.

Singapore's book accuses Malaysia of being unreasonable, frequently changing its stance and causing talks over the issue to come to a standstill.

The book, published by the ministry of information, contains a chronology of key events, a statement by Singapore's Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar, letters exchanged between Singaporean and Malaysian leaders and other documents.

Syed Hamid said Malaysia remained uninterested in holding any talks over the water sold to Singapore until the city-state was capable of accepting a fair and just agreement.

Malaysia, which supplies Singapore with half its daily water needs, decided to halt the talks last year after it failed to secure a price increase, and said it was considering taking legal action.

It now sells raw water to Singapore at three sen (less than one cent) per 1,000 gallons (4,550 litres).

Singapore has begun a limited waste water recycling programme to cut its dependence on Malaysian imports and has said it will be able to let one of two water agreements lapse in 2011. The second agreement expires in 2061.

Water has been a key irritant in bilateral relations since Singapore left the Malaysian Federation and gained independence in 1965.

Other disputes include a proposed new bridge linking the two countries, use of Malaysian airspace by Singaporean aircraft, the location of Malaysia's customs, immigration and quarantine facilities in Singapore and ownership of a rocky islet claimed by both countries.

str/lb/nj

First Published: Jun 30, 2003 12:18 IST