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Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 10:07 GMT
Malaysia raises water stakes
Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong drinks chilled recycled waste water
Singapore is trying to switch to recycled waste water
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has pledged to supply water to neighbouring Singapore until "doomsday", but said the city state should pay more.

We will supply filtered water to Singapore until doomsday

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would stop selling its untreated water when a water pact with Singapore ends in 2011, and instead wanted to offer filtered water at "a reasonable price".

Experts say the offer is likely to be rejected by Singapore, which currently buys about half of its water from Malaysia at low prices and has already developed plans to become water sufficient.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says relations between the two nations have been at a low ebb recently because of disputes over water supplies and also over a small island which both claim.

'Waste water'

The price at which Singapore buys water from Malaysia - three sen (0.8 cents) per 1,000 Imperial Gallons (1,200 U.S. gallons or 4,540 litres) of raw water - has been frozen since the early 1960s.

Dr Mahathir stresses that Hong Kong pays mainland China eight ringgit ($2.10) - more than 260 times what Singapore pays Malaysia - for the same amount of water.

Now Dr Mahathir wants to sell the island state treated water at a far higher price.

"We will supply filtered water to Singapore until doomsday," he said.

In response, Singapore says that it is also getting too little for its treated water which it currently sells back to Malaysia.

The city-state has tried to sidestep the problem by using recycled waste water which it has dubbed NEWater.

Our correspondent says that though the water dispute looks set to continue, Dr Mahathir made it clear that talks from both sides of war over the issue was unwarranted.

Earlier this month, the two countries formally agreed to take another dispute over an island known as Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca, to the world court.

See also:

06 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
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