Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad made a lot of sense for a 92-year-old: what can S$0.01 get you these days? A thousand gallon of raw water is certainly beyond under-priced, and calling it “ridiculous” is an understatement.
The objective observation by the Malaysia PM however have been responded with fury from members of the Singapore ruling party – whom many are ex-Malaysians and anti-Mahathir. 3 PAP took the comment offensively and one even started slinging mud at Mahathir, calling the water price negotiation a “diversionary tactic”.
Overnight, Singapore’s relationship with Malaysia just nose-dived thanks to these 3 new “foreign ministers”.
PAP Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin went passive-aggressive on Malaysia, by quoting an old news article citing how Singapore “helped” Malaysia by giving them more treated water than the agreed amount. The former army general fired potshots at Mahathir insinuating the Malaysia PM is whimsical, unprofessional and arrogant:
“As a friend and neighbour, we do what we can (in this instance a few years back). But being friendly and supportive doesn’t mean that we should accede to whims and fancies to show sincerity. When one wants his way and doesn’t get it, it isn’t because we aren’t friendly. It’s because it needs to be fair, equitable and consistent for our people. That’s the basis on which equals conduct business. That’s why legally binding positions are important to keep things professional and impartial. But of course, that’s assuming we view each other as equals!“
Then there is Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan, who posted a fake news claiming that water resources is free:
“Just to make things clear. When Mahathir accuses Singapore of paying too little for water… Cost of raw water to Malaysia: $0.00 (falls from sky)”
The comment was immediately picked up by Malaysia’s leading newspapers, and both Malaysian and Singaporean commentators slammed the comment as ignorant and snobbish. Indeed, the PAP Minister has tried to dumb down the water price agreement by portraying Malaysia as a mercenary profiting from it’s sale of water to Singapore. This is outright misinformation and fake news campaign to rally hatred against Singapore’s closest ally.
Lastly, there is this “diplomat” Bilahari Kausikan who totally wrecked whatever little amicability left between Singapore and Malaysia. The foul-mouthed “ambassador-at-large” mocked the Malaysia PM and accused Mahathir of “playing” politics:
“Here we go again.
The good doctor knows full well that the price of water was set by an international agreement under the terms of which Malaysia also buys treated water from Singapore at a low price, and buys considerably more than it is entitled to buy under the terms of the agreement…
Dr M knows all this. I think he is raising water only as a diversionary tactic in preparation to ask for a waiver or reduction of the compensation due to us if he formally cancels the high-speed rail project.
His intention is to make the Singapore government look unreasonable hoping, first, that Singaporeans will pressure our government on his behalf, and, second, to set up an alibi with his own people.
All this is out of Dr M’s standard play-book. Singaporeans should not be deceived. Good neighbourliness ought to be a two-way street.”