Water is a precious commodity
This only brings back memories of the repetitive campaigns on the merits of saving water. Water is a precious commodity that should not be wasted. And to inculcate this wisdom into our people’s psyche, water was priced very much more than it costs to keep a tight rein on people wasting water.
Of course this also has a lot to do with the supply. We may have four taps flowing. But one tap is going to close in a matter of years and very unlikely to be replaced for all kinds of reasons other than good economic sense.
So over the years many zealous and good spirited people and organizations popped up with great ideas and devices to help the people to save on their expensive water bill. We reinvented waste water into drinking water which we proudly called Newater. Personally this is not the brightest marketing idea. They should have called it ‘organic’ water and could fetch a higher price for it. Organic is cool and healthy and good for the system as compared to synthetic water. It may even out priced spring or mineral water.
We also have companies manufacturing little timble devices to be fitted into the tap to reduce the flow of water, thus using lesser water per sec of flow. And the cisterns were either made smaller or large plastic bottles were thrown in for the same objective, to use less water.
All these are not enough. Car washing by spraying loosely from a water hose was discouraged. People were also taught on the virtues of showering, and saving water, instead of soaking in the bathtubs. And showering becomes an art in a sense. How and when to turn on the tap and when to apply the soap. How many minutes should one take a shower has also been carefully computed, and yes, to save water. This is probably the only country in the world when personal hygiene and toilet etiquette has been turned into a science.
While some would jump in glee at not having to take a bath to push the Save Water Campaign to the limits, many would resort to all kinds of ingenuities to cut down on their water bills. Some will do all their toilet activities in the kopitiams or at the workplace. That could be the reason why a crowded MRT train or bus doesn’t seem to smell so good in the morning.
Would all these efforts to save water have any negative side effects on our lifestyle, personal hygiene or the cleanliness of our food preparation? Or would these savings be significant enough to be worthy of the effort?
What shall we do in a time when the heaven opens up and blesses us with so much water? When oil is scarce, petrol prices go up. Likewise when water is scarce, we are expected to pay more for it. When our reservoirs are overflowing and water rushing into the sea, shouldn’t the price of water come down? Could water tariff varies with supply and demand, albeit for a few months in a year like all goods and services?
Maybe that is asking a bit too much to expect a huge mechanism to be sensitive enough to adapt its price over fluctuating supply and demand. It will be good though, during a rainy season, to encourage the people to use a bit more water, bathe a few times more, and make themselves cleaner to compensate on what they did not do during the drier months. The toilets and bathrooms could be cleaner, and the trains and buses could smell better.
Do we invite foreigners to our homes and allow them to insult us and tell us to get out? This seems to be the latest development in the game of foreign talents and welcoming more people to our shores, as citizens. Many well meaning people have been singing praises of foreigners and how important they are to our survival in the future. And this message has sunk into the heads of many foreigners and Singaporeans alike, that we need them to save us. And they believe so. Some Singaporeans also believe so. And foreigners are even telling us that if we are uncompetitive, want high salaries and less work, then we should ship out. They are willing to come here to work harder and for less. The remarkable thing is that some Singaporeans do agree wholeheartedly to this kind of argument. There are Singaporeans who are working overseas as foreign talents and understand how tough it is competing against the locals. And they have achieved some success in doing so and can empathise with the foreigners working here. They understand the logic that more work and less pay is the only way to fight the competition. Singaporeans can no longer rely on the stupid idea that they must be paid first world salaries when others are willing to work for less. Admittedly this reasoning is logical and true. There is no pleasant alternative in a globalised world. Singaporeans must work more and be prepared to earn less. Would there be any profession where the incumbents dare to say they are over worked? Or after being given more perks and increments, have the audacity to ask for less work and responsibilities? Now that this new living mantra is the accepted conventional truth, it can only be expected that life will be a bit tougher for the lazy or less talented Singaporeans. So what can we expect them to do? Are they expected to tighten their belts and fight with foreigners for jobs here, asking for lesser pay? Is this a fair equation? Foreigners are hungry, have no stake or responsibilities here. They can live with less. Should we allow them to proceed to compete with our own people for jobs on unequal terms?
The other alternative is for talented Singaporeans to rough it out like our foreign talents. Go forth and seek for new pastures. And there are jobs galores overseas. Singaporeans are in high demand as foreign talents and logically will be getting better pay in foreign lands. Strange isn't it? Why are Singaporeans in great demand overseas but not wanted in their homeland? Or is this a game of musical chairs? We export our unappreciated talents overseas and welcome foreigners to take their places. Would we reach a stage that the more able Singaporeans will be found living overseas and their homes rented and occupied by foreigners? If this is the likely development, what kind of nation or society will we become? Citizens of the world? The Filipino and Indonesian maids went overseas to earn foreign exchange and left behind an empty nest. Some returned to find their nests occupied by strangers and they were no longer wanted or could not fit into the new equation. Would we pay the same price if this happens to us? And very likely the price will be much higher. For instead of the women folks being abroad, our able men folks are the one that are missing from home. A home without a man or a nation without its men or talented men can have unimaginable consequences. This is our home. This is our land. What would it be like if our homes are now overseas and our land becomes the homes of foreigners?