What Price Waterloo?


By: B Goode

There are not many things in this world simpler than this life’s equation:

No Water = You Die

Water, or the lack of it is in fact everyone’s waterloo, not only ours.

On that basis, it is perhaps justifiable for the 30% increase in water prices. But we shall leave the full-on brown-nosing justifications for the MSMs to do. They have been doing a fantastic job thus far.

But is the increase fair? Water Minister Masagos states that since water is precious, we have to pay the full price. It is as good as him pushing the full responsibility to the consumers rather than the government.

Let us look into this issue from the supply and demand angles because I’ve realised that our government will only listen if you put forward your ideas using Economics and Mathemathical terminologies.

  1. Supply

Since water is a basic necessity, it is therefore incumbent upon the government to provide us with it. It is in fact inherent in the unwritten contract between the government and the people; the government must provide clean water for the people. Period.

Although we should not expect the government to provide free water to us, the government should not use water as a budgetary tool either. Not enough money in the government coffers? Up the price of water. The worst thing to do is to profiteer.

From what we have heard thus far from the Water Minister, this seems to be the case. The consumers, he said, would have to pay the full price. It could only mean the full production costs. What happened to our taxes? Are we not supposed to pay taxes as a form of collective payment to the government to provide the necessary infrastructure for basic necessities such as water, defence, security, education etc. So what will happen to the potion of our taxes that are supposed to be allocated to water production? We gonna give it to supporting ineffective corporations like what we did to SMRT? Or the Town Councils?

What’s next? We need to pay for the upkeep of the trees because they provide clean air to us?

And if the government’s reason to increase the water price is because of increased production costs, then the onus is on the government to explain as to why they have failed to keep the costs down or to find cheaper alternatives.

As if God too wanted to show his disbelief, since the announcement it had been raining cats and dogs. Granted we have very limited land to store all this water but how about storing them in oil tankers to be parked off the coasts? Due to the oil glut, we could buy oil tankers for cheap now.

Or what about getting our water supply say from Vietnam? If we could have an undersea oil/gas pipeline from Natuna, why not an undersea water pipeline from the Mekong Delta? Vietnam would love to sell the water to Singapore since it is going to go wasted into the sea.

Or from Pahang River since Najib is in the mood to sell anything and everything.

Or how about providing untreated water to flush our toilets?

In short, Singaporeans should not be made to pay more than their fair share as far as water supply is concerned. The government too would have to shoulder part of the responsibility.

  1. Demand

As the Water Minister said, water is precious. In fact we could add to say that water is essential for life. In this regard, no matter how high the price of water is, we still need it to survive.

For example, I would need 8 glasses of water to drink. Maybe I could cut down on my shower to once a day. Flush the toilet once a day or until the toilet bowl is so reeked with foul smell until I cannot tahan. Wash my clothes once a week. Cook once a day. Use dry mop for my floorings.

And yet I am still punished for being a good citizen.

Water is unlike beer. If the price of beer is too high, I can stop drinking it. But I will need the minimum of water per day to survive. That’s why water is a necessity, Todd.

Therefore the price of water must not be punitive to those of us who are already conscientious about its value. Why don’t the thousands of government scholars put their brains together to form a gigantic thinking blob and make a study on how much water an average family would need just to survive? Price that amount of water very, very affordably, and for those of us who used over and above that amount be charged with a hefty price.

Using a sledgehammer approach to drive in the point that water is precious is smacked of political arrogance and blatant laziness.

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