PUTRAJAYA — The people of Johor must be smart in fighting for their rights in the issue of exploitation by Singapore, especially in the sale of raw water to the island state, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
He said Singapore, as a developed nation with the per capita income of US$18,000 should no longer purchase water from a country with per capita income of less than US$10,000, at such a cheap price of 3 sen per 1,000 gallons decided in 1926.
“Singapore rapidly developed because we have been supplying them with water, but I find the Johorians rarely talk about it.
“They just wait for negotiations to be undertaken by the federal government as if the state government is unaffected.
“The state government must make their voices heard. The rich are depending on the poor? This is not only illogical but also morally wrong. We must put stress on this issue,” he said the Johor Government Retreat with Federal Cabinet, here today.
Dr Mahathir said Johor would make a lot of profit if the state could properly manage the supply of water and electricity that it channelled to Singapore.
“This must be fought for, but we are not very smart in fighting for it or highlighting the problems and the consequences we suffered,” he said.
The prime minister said the state government should also look into its own advantages and disadvantages rather than at Singapore’s in a bid to beat the island state in terms of development.
For example, land shortage and the high cost of living in Singapore could give an advantage to Johor, especially in luring foreign investment, he said.
“Johor also has a relatively larger land size than Singapore, and of course, cheaper. So, if investors are looking for a larger land size, this will definitely give an advantage to Johor compared to Singapore. The cost of living in Johor is also much lower than Singapore and this can attract investors as the investment cost will not be as high as in Singapore,” he said.
In terms of ports, Dr Mahathir said Johor could use its strategic position to attract the arrival of merchant ships.
“Singapore was once considered a strategic port because the ships were using sails and wind energy, but in this era, ships use engines and they no longer regard Singapore as strategic. In fact, Johor is as strategic as Singapore, but we are not getting the optimal benefit of it,”