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S'pore Rebuts Johor Cm's Flood Claim

1 Feb 2007 (TODAY)

MND cites studies to counter his allegation

JOHOR BARU - According to a senior Malaysian official, even the recent
floods in Johor Baru are Singapore's fault.

Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman told the New Straits Times that it
was Singapore's reclamation project on Tekong island, close to the Johor
river, that caused it to flood.

Mr Abdul Ghani claimed that this caused the mouth of the river to narrow
and excess rain water could not be discharged. The river then burst its
banks in Kota Tinggi, he said, submerging homes and streets.

Singapore has rebutted the claim and even Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister
Najib Razak has distanced himself from his colleague's statement.

"There are all sorts of allegations but we can't reach any conclusion
unless a thorough technical study is done on the cause of floods in
Johor," he said. "The actual cause of the floods is exceptionally heavy

Meanwhile Singapore's Ministry of National Development (MND) said in
response to media queries: "The comments are unfounded. This is confirmed
by the results from the technical studies that were commissioned
separately by both the Malaysian government and the Singapore government."

The studies were carried out as part of the proceedings before the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to settle the dispute on
Singapore's land reclamation works at Pulau Tekong and Tuas View

The MND pointed out that a study carried out by Malaysia's Department of
Irrigation and Drainage in 2002 on the impact of the reclamation works
should there were no appreciable changes to the water levels within the
Straits of Johor for flood flows.

"As such, the study concluded that there is no increased flooding due to
Singapore's reclamation works," said the MND. Other studies came to
similar conclusions.

Both governments then accepted that it would not be necessary for the
flood impact to be assessed any further.

"There is, therefore, no scientific basis to the allegations that the
flood is caused by Singapore's land reclamation works in Pulau Tekong,"
said the MND.

The Johor administration has come under increasing pressure in the wake of
the floods that killed 17 people and left Malaysia with a massive RM1.5
billion bill - the cost of helping the flood victims and repairing roads
and schools. About 30,000 people are still taking shelter at relief

Until now the Johor government had not pointed fingers at anybody over the
floods. In fact, it had been banking on visitors from Singapore to help
bring its economy back on its feet.