SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah toured Singapore’s NEWater Visitor Centre on Thursday (Oct 27), the last day of his state visit.
The king, who arrived in Singapore on Tuesday at the invitation of President Halimah Yacob, was welcomed by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu at NEWater’s first plant in Singapore.
In her welcome remarks, Ms Fu noted Singapore and Malaysia’s long history of water cooperation.
“Our officers at our respective waterworks and water agencies work closely with one another and have done so for many years. Their strong personal friendships have enabled us to weather common challenges together,” said Ms Fu.
Singapore and Malaysia signed two water agreements in 1961 and 1962. The first expired in August 2011 and the second agreement will expire in 2061. Under the second agreement, Singapore may draw and use 250 million gallons of raw water per day from the Johor River.
In return, Singapore is obliged to provide Johor with treated water up to 2 per cent of the water imported.
Imported water from Malaysia is one of Singapore’s four sources of water, the other three being local catchment water, desalinated water and NEWater, which is high-grade reclaimed water purified with advanced membrane and ultraviolet technologies.
As one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, we have to think outside the box and tap on technology and innovation to enhance our water resilience,” said Ms Fu.
She cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent challenge, where Singapore and Malaysia worked closely and found ways to maintain the flow of essential goods and workers, including PUB’s staff at the Johor River Waterworks.
Apart from that, the two countries also face similar climate challenges.
“We are met with extreme weather events including sudden intense rainfall, or prolonged periods of dry weather. Water security, or insecurity, is a common challenge that affects both of us,” said Ms Fu, adding that Singapore looks forward to working with Malaysia on issues such as water security, as well as coastal and flood protection.
The king was then taken on a tour through the different rooms in the visitor centre marking NEWater’s journey since it was introduced two decades ago.
Singapore currently has five NEWater plants in Bedok, Kranji, Ulu Pandan and Changi, with a combined capacity of around 170 million gallons a day.
This can meet up to about 40 per cent of the country’s current water demand of 430 million gallons a day.
NEWater is mainly supplied to industries such as wafer fabrication and pharmaceutical plants, which have stringent water quality requirements. It is also injected into reservoirs during dry spells, and mixed with rainwater before it is treated and piped to households for potable use.
A guide also took the delegation through the three-purification process of NEWater, its commercial and potable uses, before the king was presented with a guest book to sign.
The king’s final stop for the tour, which lasted less than half an hour, was a visit to the control room of the plant.
During his state visit, Singapore and Malaysia reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties, “rooted in wide-ranging cooperation in areas such as infrastructure and education, as well as extensive people-to-people ties”, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement on Thursday.
“They also discussed ways to further cooperation, including in emerging sectors like digitalisation and climate change.”
At a state banquet held in the king’s honour at the Istana on Wednesday, President Halimah said that his visit caps a fruitful year of high-level exchanges between Singapore and Malaysia, and reaffirms the close ties between the neighbours.
“It reaffirms the close relationship between our two countries, which have been linked by bonds of kinship through the generations. There are strong people-to-people ties at all levels,” Madam Halimah said.
The president added that bilateral cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia – each other’s second-largest trading partner – has grown from strength to strength, especially in areas such as trade, investment, and tourism.
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