What if Singapore goes to war because of water?

By March 3, 2017Current

This post is part of the series Budget 2017

Other posts in this series:

  1. Budget 2017: The National Budget Process
  2. Will we see a Budget which spends more than what we have?
  3. Three reasons to cheer the Early Childhood Development Centres Act

TL;DR – It’s not impossible.

Water prices. That seems to be the main thing that anyone remembers about this year’s budget.

Forget all the measures to strengthen partnerships between the Government and industry stakeholders, and bring about innovation. Forget about the resources that have been set aside to enhance training for workers and make training more accessible (e.g. the S$150 million that the government has set aside to match, dollar-for-dollar, the NTUC-Education and Training Fund).

Forget all of those.

Everyone has just been talking about the rise in water prices. And even ministers have spent much of their budget speeches talking about the increase in water prices.

That includes Minister Chan Chun Sing. He said that water is an “existential issue” for Singapore. It’s an important speech that he has made in Parliament on Wednesday, and we think more people should watch this,

We agree with him. We are certain that if we do not keep our water priced correctly to accurately reflect its price, then one of the following three things will happen.

1. We die of thirst

We may be used to clean and clear water flowing freely from our taps. But guess what? Many people don’t have that luxury. More than 600 million people don’t have access to clean water. The water crisis is the number one risk to society according to the World Economic Forum.

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And with climate changes, things are set to get worse.

Just look at what is happening up north. Thanks to El Nino, the water supply in Johor last year fell below critical levels. The water level at the Congok Dam in Mersing, Johor, was at 2.5m and 2.6m, dangerously below the critical level of 3.5m. As a result, 40,000 people in Mersing are putting up with a fifth month of water rationing.

This is a state that has huge land area to serve as catchment for rainwater. And they still have to ration water. Imagine the situation for Singapore. Even though we have turned two-thirds of our land area into water catchment areas, we still won’t get enough water to meet all our needs. If we depend on just rain water, then when climate change results in lower rainfall, we won’t just be looking at water rationing. We’ll be looking at dying of thirst.

2. Be someone else’s b*tch

Of course, we don’t need to suffer that doom. We could just roll over and be someone else’s b*tch. Someone can well threaten to cut our water supplies and force us to surrender our sovereignty. You think that’s far fetched? That’s exactly what happened in February 1942.

Even though the Japanese forces seem like they had the upper hand in the Battle of Singapore, they were actually running out of supplies. If the British had mounted a concerted counterattack, Singapore might never have had to suffer the three years and eight months as Syonan-To. But they didn’t.

One of the main reasons was because Singapore was running out of water due the breaks in the water mains and pipes and the main reservoirs being in Japanese hands. So instead of fighting back, the British chose to surrender.

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Do we want that to happen again? Do we want to give up our sovereignty just so that we don’t have to die of thirst?

3. Go to war

Of course, we don’t need to just roll over and be someone else’s b*tch. We can go to war. We can send our tanks rolling, scramble our jets, and launch our warships. We can see if our paper generals can really justify their salary. That is the possibility that Minister Chan brought up in Parliament:

“For the entire generation who have worn the uniform, you know what this means. Including… Mr Pritam Singh (who) used to served with me, in the same unit, a classified unit. We know the deal. That has not changed. That will not change.”

Do we really want that? Do we really want to spill the blood of young NSFs, reservists with children, our brothers, our sons, our fathers, just so that we can have clean drinking water?

If we don’t want any of the above, then how?

Sources of Singapore’s water supply (via)

We will need to have to be self-sufficient. To do that, we will need more NEWater and desalination plants. Minister Chan made this point:

“How many more desalination plants and NEWater plants must we build in order for water to never be a weapon pointing at our head?”

No matter how many it works out to be, we will need to have the resources to be able to do it. And to have sufficient resources, setting the water price right is a very important first step.

READ MORE:  Some people asked why Singaporeans pay so much for water when we buy it for 3 sen per 1000 gallons from Malaysia

(Cover image via)

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Joey Wee

Author Joey Wee

I am nice, most of the time!

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