SINGAPORE – Singapore urged Malaysia on Monday to fully comply with a water-sharing agreement struck in 1962, after Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was looking to renegotiate it.
Mahathir, in an interview with Bloomberg, criticized the agreement in which Singapore can draw up to nearly 60 percent of its water needs from Malaysia at a fixed price, as being “too costly”, adding that it was an issue “we need to settle” with Singapore.
A spokesperson for Singapore’s foreign ministry responded in an emailed statement, saying: “The 1962 Water Agreement is a fundamental agreement that was guaranteed by both governments in the 1965 Separation Agreement which was registered with the UN. Both sides must comply fully with all the provisions of these agreements.”
Singapore was once part of Malaysia but they separated acrimoniously in 1965, clouding diplomatic and economic dealings for years.
Ties were particularly frosty during Mahathir’s previous tenure as prime minister, between 1981 and 2003.
Since returning to office after an election last month he has halted a rail project with Singapore and said he planned to develop some offshore rocks that were the subject of a territorial dispute with his southern neighbor.