In response to press queries on Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid's comments on the bilateral negotiations with Singapore, the MFA spokesman said:
"After the third round of Senior Officials Meeting in Singapore on 27-28 May 1999, Malaysia proposed that the next meeting be held in Malaysia. Singapore agreed. The Malaysians have on several occasions indicated that they knew the ball was in their court. To date, however, Malaysia has not proposed any dates for such a meeting. As a result, no further talks have been held.
We are therefore glad to hear now that 'the Malaysian Government was proceeding with the matter and it remained focussed'. We are also encouraged to note that the Malaysian Government is not 'laying aside the negotiations due to party (UMNO) elections' in May this year."
Referring to Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid's comments that it was pointless to have a meeting if there was nothing to discuss since Singapore has refused to accommodate Malaysia's needs, and that there must be "give-and-take" in order to achieve a "win-win" situation, the MFA Spokesman said:
"Singapore has tried to be helpful and has taken the approach of offering 'maximum benefits for both sides' by trying to accommodate new Malaysian requests on such issues as railway land and CPF. Singapore has always been accommodating. We have always believed that it is in the best interests of both countries to resolve these issues expeditiously. It was in this spirit that Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had met in Hanoi in December 1998, and instructed their senior officials to discuss and reach agreement on the outstanding bilateral issues.
Referring to the comment that Malaysia must meet its own water needs ahead of others, the MFA Spokesman said:
"We have always told Malaysia that our request for water beyond 2061 is contingent on Malaysia satisfying its own water needs first. Dr Mahathir has said that Malaysia would meet Singapore's long term water needs, and it was on this basis that we agreed that officials from both sides would meet to work on a package deal within the framework of wider cooperation."