On Mar 14, 2019, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Mr Saifuddin said during a press conference that the attorneys-general of both sides will continue discussions to “better understand each other’s position” on the right to review the price of water.
Dr Balakrishnan said at that time: “Both sides have differing views on the right to review the price of water … Both of us have agreed that the attorneys-general of Malaysia and Singapore will continue their discussions to better understand each other’s position on the right to review the price of water.”
He told Singapore media later that day that there has been no agreement made on the right to review the water price.
“There is only agreement to sit down, to explain, discuss and to appreciate each other’s respective positions,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
On his part, Mr Saifuddin said during the press conference that the discussions between the two attorneys-general will be “with a view of finding an amicable way forward”.
“We also reaffirm our commitment to resolve bilateral issues in a constructive manner and encourage ongoing diplomatic efforts to find amicable solutions for our mutual interest. This is of course in preserving the vital relationship between both countries and improving bilateral ties on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” he said.
“That is the underlying spirit of all of the discussions that we have had in the past and we will be having (in future).”
Mr Saifuddin was Malaysia’s foreign minister during the Pakatan Harapan administration under Dr Mahathir. He served as Minister of Communications and Multimedia under Mr Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration before being reappointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs under current prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In March 2020, Dr Balakrishnan said that Singapore has been willing to listen to and discuss Malaysia’s proposals on the 1962 Water Agreement on the basis of mutual benefit, while maintaining its legal position that Malaysia has lost the right to unilaterally revise the price of water.
Dr Balakrishnan said at that time that he had held meetings with Mr Saifuddin in December 2019 and January 2020.
“We have made it clear to Malaysia that any review of the price of raw water sold to Singapore will also mean a review of the price of treated water sold to Johor,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
“Both sides must also discuss the yield and quality of the water from the Johor River, so as to ensure that Singapore can continue to draw our entitlement of 250 million gallons per day of raw water under the 1962 Water Agreement, for the remaining 41 years of the Water Agreement.”