Monday, March 24, 2014


By Mansor Puteh

I have been following the controversy on the Malaysia-Singapore water agreement which the authorities in both countries have not yet been able to resolve despite the many years that the issue had been put on the table for discussion.

My main concern is: Is the water agreement between the two countries valid in law based on current expectations of the aggrieved, which is Malaysia?

The reason being the currency used in the agreement had ceased to exist long ago, and the mode of payment as stipulated in the agreement does not say if it would be replaced by the Malaysian Ringgit or Singapore Dollar.

And if there is any mode of payment that can be used it will have to be mutually agreed upon and the two cents per 1,000 gallons of water, Malaysia was said to be paid under the original law, cannot be paid in any other currency.

Therefore the original agreement is void and a new one be formulated to replace it with new terms that can be accepted.

The two cents referred to in the original water agreement between Malaya then and Singapore were British Malaya cents, while the payment that Malaysia now gets from Singapore in the Malaysian Ringgit sen.

The value of the British Malaya dollars and sen then were very high compared to the value of the rate as stipulated in the agreement, and if the same agreement has to be abided to the T, then surely, there must be adjustments made to the value of the British Malaya sen amounting to British Malaya $0.02 which could buy something back then but not so if it is just a mere RM0.02.

One could buy something for British Malaya $0.02 then but not with RM$0.02 or 2 sen today.

Therefore, Singapore and Malaysia must sit down to discuss this issue and move on from there and evaluate the actual value of the British Malaya $0.02 based on what it was worth then and Singapore must pay accordingly if the country still needs Malaysia to sell water to them.

Singapore should show some form of gratitude and be grateful for the water it has been getting for a pittance for too long now and be realistic.

If the country could develop by leaps and bounds in many areas and industries despite it not having much or any natural resources, then surely, it must be more grateful for the water it gets from Malaysia as such a ridiculously low rate, to realize that its engine of growth is greatly dependent on the continuous supply of water, and pay for it accordingly and in the current market price and not haggle over something that was decided many decades ago when Singapore was part of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu or the Federation of Malaya, and for a while in the Federation of Malaysia, too, when estimation for the rates was purely based on sentimental reasons than business considerations, which should be the way how the Malaysia can impose on Singapore.

Singapore than it not the Singapore of today. And the British Malaya dollar is not the same as the Malaysian Ringgit currency of today.

Besides when the agreement was signed, Singapore was much a part of the British
Commonwealth and also the Federation of Malaya, so the terms and clauses agreed by Malaya took that into account so that the deal could be seen to favor Singapore by getting cheap water.

And Malaya did not know Singapore would one day separate from the Federation which if it had thought so, then surely, Malaya would treat Singapore more formally than it did and tried its level best to get the best deal.

But no one knew about that the British Commonwealth too would disintegrate and Malaya and Singapore would go on their separate ways in the years ahead.

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