News / Asia

Malaysia, Singapore Grapple With Prolonged Dry Spell

A sign and safety buoy mark the boundary of a partially dried-up pond, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Feb. 26, 2014.
A sign and safety buoy mark the boundary of a partially dried-up pond, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Feb. 26, 2014.
Reuters
Singapore and Malaysia are grappling with some of the driest weather they have ever seen, forcing the tiny city-state to ramp up supplies of recycled water while its neighbor rations reserves amid disruptions to farming and fisheries.

Singapore, which experiences tropical downpours on most days, suffered its longest dry spell on record between Jan. 13 and Feb. 8 and has had little rain since.

Shares in Hyflux Ltd., which operates desalination and water recycling operations in Singapore, have risen 3.5 percent over the past month.

In peninsular Malaysia, 15 areas have not had rainfall in more than 20 days, with some of them dry for more than a month, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department. The dry weather is expected to run for another two weeks.

The Indonesian province of Riau has also been hit, with parts of the region wreathed in smog, usually caused by farmers setting fires to illegally clear land. Poor visibility has disrupted flights to and from the airport in Pekanbaru.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to discuss the drought at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that would decide whether to declare a national emergency, according to state news agency Bernama.

On Wednesday, media said the Malaysian state of Selangor had won approval from the federal government to take over four water firms, with the dry spell forcing an end to a five-year feud over control of water resources.

The state will pay the firms, which include builder Gamuda and water services company Puncak Niaga, 9.65 billion ringgit ($2.94 billion) to their owners in compensation.

While some dry weather is expected at this time of year, the abnormal lack of rain is raising concern about the pace of climate change.

"The concern is that these uncommon weather events may be happening more frequently sooner rather than later," said National University of Singapore researcher Winston Chow.

Palm oil prices hit

Malaysia is the world's second-largest producer of palm oil and planters say dry weather lasting more than two months can hurt yields six months to two years down the line, affecting output and fueling benchmark Kuala Lumpur prices.

Concern the weather will hurt production has helped push up palm oil prices about 8 percent in February, setting the market on track for its biggest monthly gain in four months.

The lack of rain is also believed to have caused extensive damage to the rice crop.

In Singapore, the dry weather is being blamed in part for the death of fish stocks at several offshore farms. About 160 tons of fish have died in recent weeks because of a lack of oxygen in the water.

The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department said it had got more than 7,000 calls about forest and bush fires nationwide since early February, five times more than usual.

Selangor, Malaysia's richest and most industrialized state, began limited water rationing on Tuesday as levels in its dams plunged to critical lows.

"We pledge that every consumer will receive water, but it will be rationed to ensure supply every two days," Bernama quoted state chief minister Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as saying.

"In a week, consumers will receive water for four days."

The state of Negeri Sembilan, near Kuala Lumpur, declared a "state of crisis" over the water shortage last week.

In Singapore, the Public Utilities Board has boosted the supply of recycled water, known as NEWater, and desalinated supplies, to keep up reservoir levels.

Singapore's national security concerns mean it has developed into one of the world leaders in water technology as it tries to cut reliance on imported supplies from Malaysia.

About 55 percent of Singapore's water is now desalinated or recycled, in line with an aim to be self-sufficient by 2061, when a 1962 agreement to buy 250 million gallons per day from Malaysia ends, according to the board.

The deal lets Singapore buy the Malaysian water at 0.03 ringgit ($0.01) per 1,000 gallons, and sell back treated water for 0.50 ringgit per 1,000 gallons.

Some experts say while Singapore is coping well with the dry spell, it needs to diversify its water supplies further.

"The expectation of the large increase of NEWater and desalination water may not be practical due to their much higher cost than imported water and catchment water," said Pat Yeh, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at National University of Singapore.

Johor, the Malaysian state that borders Singapore, has been urging an early re-negotiation of the water deal, saying it is too advantageous to the city-state.

"The talks should begin immediately," Hasni Mohammad, chairman of a public works panel, told Bernama in a recent interview. "We have long been in a losing position."

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid