In the previous article on ‘Tackling at the Root of the Malaysian Society – Food Issue (Part 2 of 3)‘, we painted a bird’s eye view of the water scarcity and food insecurity issues in Malaysia and provided an overview of the possible suggestions for improvement.
However the focus of this article is about water scarcity and the objective is to find out what can be done at our level as an ordinary citizen in order to make a change to the issue at hand. If we dig into the section, ‘Shocking Facts‘ of the past article; the answers to our problems are already spelled out plainly for us on how to survive any future mishaps of water scarcity.
Image from http://www.rappler.com/
Let’s scour through these articles to pick up lessons for learning and to serve as reminders:
Hear ye, Hear ye, Fellow Malaysians!
“In Malaysia, we are blessed with an abundance of rainfall and water resources. Yet, we are faced by water shortages and crises in many parts of the country. Rather it’s caused by unsustainable management of water resources that causes many people and the environment to suffer.” – Sustainable Water Use
– Point #1: The cause of the water crisis we faced has been pointed out clearly – it’s due to unsustainable management of water resources.
– Point #2: Sustainable water use must happen at all levels and it needs to involve everyone from government agencies to private sector, NGOs, communities and individuals.
Shocking consumer water usage habits, an article in 2011: “A study showed that 70% of Malaysians use more than they should,’’ lamented Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui last week. More depressing news? Seventy per cent of them do not intend to change their water usage habits, said the minister. This is a sad reflection on the wasteful nature of consumers who do not practice sustainable water consumption.
If Malaysians follow the recommended water usage, they can save up to 28.2cu.m per household, or RM18.33 a month, said Chin, who added that the “recommended daily limit” for Malaysians is 165 litres per person, which means water use has to be reduced by 37%. Most people do not know how much water they are using as the water bill is only a small component of their monthly household expenses.” – Malaysia faces looming water crisis (22 March 2011)
– Point #3: Change our water usage habits; as a water consumer, please stop the wasteful habit and practice sustainable water consumption. How to do it?
– Point #4: Start by following the ‘recommended daily limit’ – 165 litres per person.
– Point #5: Discipline ourselves to make every drop of water counts be it in rain or sunshine or even after the water rationing exercise.
– Point #6: For the water consumption is concerned, the idea of cheap or free does not mean is good for us in long term. The water resources should not be “unnecessarily politicized. If only we understand that resources are not unlimited and that if we want services to be improved, at some point, we need to pay for it.”
Warnings of local expert fallen on deaf ears: “Water activist like Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng has seen and heard it all, especially since the El Nino phenomenon of 1997/1998. Dr Chan said that since the 1997/98 El Nino, the government had promised a lot of things and had supposedly put in place many measures to mitigate if not avoid another water crisis in future. As a result, he said, Malaysians had developed a false sense of security that another El Nino would not impact them as hard as the previous one.
Hence, he added, many had not taken preventive measures to protect themselves against another prolonged drought and water shortage. Very few have bothered to invest in rainfall harvesting mechanisms, construct a shallow well or tube well or even increase their water storage volume in their water tanks. Even fewer have changed their water consumption patterns by adopting a more water-wise approach when using water.
Dam building and water treatment plant construction continue to be the main focus of the authorities but not water education and water conservation, which to Dr Chan should be done simultaneously. The Malaysian government, he said, must realize that it could not keep on supplying water as the amount of water ‘is finite but demand is forever increasing’. Consumers must be taught the value of water and how to use water wisely. We are not suggesting that all Malaysians should save water so much so it jeopardizes their health and sanitary functions.
Dr Chan lamented the inconsistency and lack of concerted efforts on the part of the government to inculcate prudent water usage among the masses. It should be continuous so that the entire nation can be reached and sensitized,” said Dr Chan who is also a professor in the Geography Department at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang. People need to be reminded all the time about the importance of water and its conservation. In fact, water conservation should be included in the school curriculum, in related subjects,” he suggested. – How To Avoid A Stressful Water Crisis.
– Point #7: Invest in rainfall harvesting mechanisms, construct a shallow well or tube well or even increase their water storage volume in their water tanks.
– Point #8: Changed your water consumption patterns by adopting a more water-wise approach when using water.
– Point #9: Learn to be self initiative in the area of water education and water conservation.
– Point #10: Press the government on the importance of educating the public on these subjects as it is our rights as consumers to be taught the value of water and how to use water wisely.
Dr Chan Ngai Weng, President of Water Watch Penang (WWP) speaking of water – “Without water, there is no life. No water, no food, no industry, no clothes, car or even computers because to produce all these we need water. Dr Chan is deeply concerned over the water issues in the country. A big question mark hovers over the state of water resources in Malaysia, namely the absence of a National Water Policy. While most countries prefer to opt for decentralized water management, Malaysia on the other hand opted for centralization of the water sector via SPAN (National Water Services Commission).
Also unlike many of the nations, Malaysia relies too much on building dams and treatment plants in meeting the demand for treated water. However, most rivers in Malaysia are nearing their maximum capacities and this means no more dams can be built. But population, industry, agriculture and other sectors keep growing and water demand keeps increasing. Malaysia, according to Dr Chan has reached the stage whereby we cannot keep on building dams.
We need to address water problems from the Water Demand Management side. We need to teach consumers how to save water, reduce Malaysian per capita daily water usage from the current 300 litres per person per day (LPCD) to at least 200 LPCD.” – No Water, No Life (17 June 2010)
– Point #11: Learn about the government’s role in creating a sustainable water management system in the country and emphasis should be on communicating the importance of water education and water conservation to the public. Such effort from the part of the government is rather silent at this point of time.
“Malaysians, be warned! Free water is not like any other populist handout – there are dire consequences.
Even if some Malaysians don’t care about the plight of the Orang Asli or the displacement of other indigenous peoples for dam projects, their own discomfort during any water shortages should be enough to warn them of the even worse catastrophe in the looming water crises to come.
We have been warned that future wars will be fought over this increasingly scarce resource, water.
Giving away free water makes a mockery of water demand management. When water tariffs are low (never mind free!), consumers have no incentive to conserve water. The evidence and statistics on the water consumption rate of Malaysians speak for themselves”. – Free water: Populism gone mad (23 February 2014).
– Point #12: It’s time to wake up from our slumber, fellow Malaysians. Please do not take the water resources for granted. When water is cheap, it does not mean to simply splash out wastefully.
Public resentment is uncalled for: 2013’s spate of water cuts and shortages have hurt the average Malaysian deeply. Frustrations will naturally mount whenever hundreds of thousands of people are unable to get access to water, but it’s time the general public takes steps to reduce the effect of water shortages – rather than putting the blame completely with water concessionaires, government agencies, and the energy ministry. – Is Malaysia facing a future water shortage? (11 February 2014)
Point #13: Please realize the change start from us, individual citizen. If we want a change to the nation, we must make initiative to change on our part. Start by learning not to expect others to clear our mess. It’s our mess, learn to be responsible and be accountable for our actions. If we don’t set things right, nobody will do it for us and eventually we will pay for the consequences with our lives while dragging along the lives and the future of our children.
We have unearthed so much dirt beneath this issue which makes us realize that many of the problems have its roots in our bad habit – ‘never mindlah‘ attitude. It’s indeed very shameful but yet we need to come to terms with the fact that ‘customer is not always right’ as such bad habit is a weakness and if not set right, it exposes us to exploitation and manipulation by irresponsible quarters.
Often times, it’s no surprise that we have fallen into the schemes of politicians who are exploiting this weakness to the hilt while toying us with the manipulative arm-twisting game behind the scene – pleasing us to win our favours in supporting of their short term causes while failing us by leading us to compromise the future of our children, the society of tomorrow.
It’s time to wake up, and realize that our lives cannot be fooled around by irresponsible groups of politician who care less for the interest of our lives and the nation but rather for the interest and agenda of their own.
We should rise up and have our feet firmly planted on the ground to maneuver the change in our lives at the individual level before we can witness the ‘big’ change to take place at the national level. Remember that everything start with us, the individuals because we are the building blocks of the society in a nation.
Think about it.