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Johor minister says Singapore land reclamation cause of recent floods

Posted: 31 January 2007 2014 hrs (CNA)
JOHOR: The Chief Minister of Malaysia's Johor state has cited land reclamation by neighbouring Singapore as a cause of the recent massive recent flooding.

17 people died and 100,000 were evacuated from their homes during the floods.

According to Malaysian daily, the New Straits Times, Mr Abdul Ghani Othman said the floods were due to the narrowing of the Johor River mouth caused by reclamation on Singapore's Tekong island located opposite the waterway.

He said the river burst its banks after excess rain water could not flow out to the sea fast enough.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, however, said it was too early to tell if the flooding was linked to the reclamation.

"There are all sorts of allegations but we can't come to a conclusion unless a thorough technical study is done on the cause of Johor's floods. The real cause is the exceptionally heavy rainfall," he said.

A spokesperson from Singapore's Ministry of National Development says these comments are unfounded and this is confirmed by the results from technical studies that were commissioned separately by both Malaysia and Singapore.

The studies were part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea dispute settlement proceedings on Singapore's land reclamation works at Pulau Tekong and Tuas View Extension.

Singapore said a coastal hydraulic study undertaken by Malaysia's Department of Irrigation and Drainage in 2002 found that there were no appreciable changes to water levels within the Straits of Johor under projected worst case flood scenarios which could happen once in 100 years.

The study concluded that there was no increased flooding caused by Singapore's reclamation works.

Separately, an environmental impact assessment report prepared by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and commissioned by the Malaysian government also reported similar findings.

So too, did technical studies commissioned separately by the Singapore government in 2003.

The Ministry added that based on the results of these studies, the Group of Experts, which both governments appointed to study the impact of the reclamation works, had recommended that it would not be necessary for the flood impact to be further assessed by the technical consultant appointed for the Joint Study.

This was accepted by both governments. - CNA /dt