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Malaysia in transition

Mahathir says water sold to Singapore should cost 10 times more

Decades-old issue likely to be a bargaining chip for other negotiations

Pipes carrying water from Malaysia to Singapore run alongside the causeway toward the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday the price of untreated water that Malaysia supplies to Singapore should be more than 10 times higher than it is now, reigniting a decades-old dispute between the two neighbors.

Mahathir's demand for a more than tenfold price increase was the first concrete number he has floated since returning to power in May. Some observers believe the comments are an effort to use the water issue as a bargaining chip in bilateral negotiations over other matters, such as a recently canceled high-speed rail project.

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