Malaysia to work with Singapore to honour share of water under 1962 agreement: Najib

Today Online 13 Dec 16;

PUTRAJAYA — In the wake of receding water levels at Linggiu Reservoir, Malaysia will supply Singapore with the share of water due to it under the 1962 agreement signed between the two countries, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak assured on Tuesday (Dec 13).

Speaking at a joint press conference after both leaders witnessed the signing of a historic bilateral agreement on the high-speed rail linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Mr Najib said the water issue was discussed during the annual leaders’ retreat with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Najib said that while there are challenges that affect the water supply from Malaysia, including the effects of climate change, both countries have agreed to continue to work closely together to make sure Singapore gets its share of water. Mr Lee said he was happy that both countries have agreed on the importance of ensuring “reliable and adequate” water supply from Malaysia to Singapore. “I appreciate very much that Malaysia will be undertaking appropriate and timely measures to increase the yield of the Johor River,” he said.

The Johor River Barrage project — to ensure reliable water supply from the river — is in the final stages of completion and on track to be ready by March next year.

Linggiu Reservoir, which enables Singapore to reliably draw water from the Johor River, has seen water levels recede to historic lows since August last year. On its part, Singapore has supplied Johor with potable water, over several rounds in the past two years, to help Malaysia’s southernmost state cope with dry spells and pollution in the Johor River.

Water from the reservoir is released into the Johor River to prevent saltwater intrusion from the sea into the river, as salty water cannot be treated by the water plant further downstream. This enables Singapore to draw a maximum of 250 million gallons per day (equivalent to 60 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs) from the river allowed under the 1962 water agreement between Singapore and Malaysia. In turn, the PUB is obliged to sell 5 million gallons of treated water per day to Johor.

Other topics discussed during the meeting between the two leaders included the progress made in tourism collaboration, such as a twinning initiative for Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Kukup. They also touched on environmental issues, including regional cooperation on the transboundary haze pollution problem, as well as the importance of defence cooperation between the two countries in light of growing security challenges and threats.

Citing developments including the outcome of the United States Presidential Election and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, Mr Lee said: “We also looked at the state of the world and the uncertainties and anxieties which are currently prevalent internationally... tensions and preoccupations in various parts of the region... and we agreed that in such a circumstance, all the more our bilateral relationship must be strong.”

He added: “We should work together within ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to strengthen (regional) cohesion to deal with the issues so that we can share each other’s burden and prosper together.”

In a joint statement, Mr Lee and Mr Najib also said both countries would like to organise a regular cultural showcase, following the success of last year’s Titian Budaya Cultural Festival in Kuala Lumpur which marked 50 years of bilateral ties. The two leaders proposed the event to be a triennial affair, starting with the leaders’ retreat in 2018. Singapore will host next year’s retreat.

Malaysia to take appropriate, timely measures to increase yield of Johor River
Lim Jia Qi Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 16;

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Singapore and Malaysia agree on the importance of ensuring reliable and adequate water supplies for Singapore from the Johor River, the leaders of the two countries said on Tuesday (Dec 13), with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong adding that he "appreciates very much that Malaysia will be undertaking appropriate and timely measures to increase the yield of the Johor River."

The issue of water supply was among the various topics discussed by both leaders during the seventh leaders' retreat held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.

Speaking at a joint news conference after the signing of the high-speed rail agreement, both leaders noted that water was an important issue.

"We've agreed to work closely together to make sure that Singapore gets its share of water under the (1962) water agreement," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

However, Mr Najib noted that there were some challenges, such as the effects of climate change that has affected the supply of water to Singapore.

However, he gave the assurance that both countries will work together to resolve the problem.

Mr Najib also revealed that the Johor River Barrage project will be operational by March next year.

The project aims to reduce salinity in the river during dry seasons and allow Singapore and Johor to draw the full capacity of the river. This is expected to increase the yield of the Johor River.

"I'm very happy that the Johor River barrage is now in its final stages of completion," said Mr Lee. "It's already making a difference and helping to improve the yield of the river, and our agencies are working closely together. And that means on our side the PUB, on Johor's side the BAKAJ (water regulatory body Badan Kawal Selia Air Johor) and on the federal level, KeTTHA (Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water)."

In a joint statement released later on Tuesday evening, the two leaders also expressed their appreciation to the water authorities of both Johor and Singapore for their ongoing cooperation and encouraged both water authorities to continue their "excellent working relationship".

"Singapore noted that Malaysia will undertake appropriate and timely measures to increase the yield of the Johor River," said the joint statement.

- CNA/dt

Singapore will also prosper if Iskandar Malaysia region succeeds: PM Lee
Lee U-wen, The Business Times AsiaOne 14 Dec 16;

Singapore will prosper if the neighbouring Iskandar Malaysia region in the state of Johor does well, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday.

Mr Lee, who was in Putrajaya to attend the annual leaders' retreat with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said he congratulated Mr Najib on the tenth anniversary of Iskandar Malaysia this year.

Since its launch, Iskandar Malaysia has attracted more than RM200 billion (S$64.3 billion) in cumulative committed investments, with a sizeable amount coming from Singapore companies.

Singapore is currently the second-largest foreign investor in both Iskandar Malaysia and Johor.

Mr Lee added that both governments continue to work closely together via a joint ministerial committee for Iskandar Malaysia.

This high-level committee has met a dozen times since it was formed in 2007. The last meeting was held in Singapore in March this year.

Mr Lee also noted that the various joint-venture projects between Singapore's Temasek Holdings and Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional are making good progress.

The two investment companies have a couple of joint projects in Iskandar Malaysia, namely Afiniti Medini and Avira Medini.

These have a strong focus on wellness and have a combined gross development value of some RM3 billion.

Temasek and Khazanah also have a joint-venture company in Singapore called M+S Pte Ltd, which operates two major mixed-use developments - Marina One in Marina South and Duo in the Ophir-Rochor area.

"(The joint projects) show visibly that this is a win-win partnership that is progressing well," said Mr Lee at a press conference alongside Mr Najib at the Malaysian Prime Minister's Office.

The subject of water also came up during the leaders' retreat. Mr Najib said the two countries have agreed to work closely together to ensure that Singapore gets its share of water from Malaysia under the current agreement.

"There are some challenges, not least some of the effects of climate change that has affected the supply of water," said Mr Najib.

Mr Lee said that when it comes to water, both Singapore and Malaysia are clear on where they stand on this important issue.

"We are happy that we've agreed on the importance of ensuring reliable and adequate water supplies from the Johor river as provided for in the 1962 water agreement, and to take the necessary measures in order to make this happen," said the Singapore leader.

The Johor River Barrage is in the final stages of completion and will be fully operational by March 2017.

Mr Lee said this barrage has already made a difference to help increase the yield of the river.

Among the other topics that the two leaders discussed during their retreat were regional and international developments such as the impending change of government in the United States and Brexit in the UK.

They also talked about the importance of ASEAN integration and cohesion in a highly uncertain global environment.

Mr Najib said that both countries are "very pleased" with the overall state of bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

"There will always be challenges, but given the commitment at the highest levels that this should be an important relationship, one that is predicated on finding solutions, resolving problems and moving forward in a positive way," he said.

"That's the spirit that reflects the relationship that we've enjoyed between (PM Lee and I) and the two governments."

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