Malaysian Defends Singapore In Water Dispute
It’s not often that Malaysians and Singaporeans can put our differences aside and agree on something.
So when a Malaysian decides to echo Singapore’s opinion on Mahathir’s approach to the water agreements, it comes as quite a surprise.
Writer SK Wong acknowledges some of Malaysia’s faults in the dispute, in a strongly-worded article on independent news site Malaysiakini.
Mahathir created disputes himself
Wong points out how Mahathir raised disagreements with Singapore right after he became Prime Minister in 2018.
Some of the issues include “the crooked bridge, water supply, border, airspace and road charge/Vehicle Entry Permit”.
Across these disputes, Wong concedes to mistakes made by Malaysia, and specifically Dr Mahathir himself.
He cites the 1962 water agreement, which was open to negotiations in 1987, during which Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister.
Malaysia didn’t take action then, only raising the matter in 1998 in light of the Asian Financial Crisis.
A new, supplementary agreement was signed in 1990, but even then, prices remained the same and the agreement is stipulated to last till 2061.
Wong questions why, given multiple chances, the Malaysian government never raised water prices, but chose to do so in 2018.
He adds that Mahathir dwelling on the agreement only proves that he is trying to avoid fault for signing in the first place.
Singapore treated like Malaysian minorities
Through the water disputes, Wong notices similarities in the way the Malaysian government treats Singapore and the country’s minorities.
He claims that the government only makes promises out of convenience, to further their own causes rather than the people’s.
Wong points to the benefits that the Malay privileged class enjoys at the expense of the minorities, who supposedly “did the bulk of heavy lifting in developing the country”.
The Malaysian government’s inconsistency is evident in their wavering stance towards the water agreement.
Singapore resilient enough to withstand pressure
Despite the uncertainty on Malaysia’s end of the bargain, Wong praises Singapore for remaining steadfast, saying that we’re “no pushover”.
He highlights how Singapore has already found ways to reduce dependence on Malaysia for water, whereas Johor still lags far behind in water treatment.
He also lauds Singapore for providing extra treated water at the same prices out of goodwill, a gesture he wishes Malaysia was more thankful for.
Wong concludes that Singapore ultimately has the upper hand in the dispute, since we have been abiding by the agreements.
Let’s maintain good relations
Malaysia and Singapore have had good relations over the past few decades, so it’s not in anybody’s interest to start an argument.
Let’s hope that both parties can resolve the dispute peacefully and avoid any future disagreements like this.
After all, none of us like arguing with our neighbours.
Featured image from Facebook.