From ‘Water tank could be closed down’, 21 May 2011, article by Kimberly Spykerman, ST and ‘Maid in water tank case:MP drinks tap water to prove safety’, 20 May 2011, article in asiaone.com
An Indonesian maid’s body had been found in one of the block’s rooftop water tanks on Monday. Since then, residents have been raising concerns on whether the water is drinkable.
…In a video uploaded on YouTube, Mr Vikram Nair filled a glass with tap water before consuming it in front of the household’s residents.
…(Yasmin Abdul, housewife): I think you need a few more days to get used to it. You’re afraid after the incident, and some of the more superstitious people will day that you are drinking ‘blood water’.
…(Madam May Lee, housewife): Yesterday I cooked using the tap water as I didn’t manage to collect water, and I started having diarrhoea last night. I’m not sure if there is really a correlation or it could just be my own imagination, but you really start to become paranoid.
The possibility of deactivating the tank comes even as residents are circulating a petition for it to be completely replaced.
Good effort by Vikram, scoring points in the ministerial KPI of Self-sacrifice and being the first to harness the power of YouTube while our new Environment minister is still taking baby-steps reading Singapore-Malaysia Water Relations for Dummies. But he fails to realise that it’s not really about how ‘drinkable’ the water is (even then, one can’t assume this immediately after he has drunk it. Someone check on him the next few days), but how much of the dead maid’s haunted vengeful ‘spirit’ is dissolved in it. It’s a perfectly normal emotional response though, namely irrational fear and disgust, to be uncomfortable drinking something once contaminated with a corpse, no matter how much disinfectant you’ve used scrubbing the insides of the tank or purifying the water within. Some people would even discard an entire jug of water if it had so much as a single dead ant in it. Heck, they would balk at the thought even if the ant were sterilised, freeze-dried and powdered to the point that its remains has a lower microbial count that the water itself .
Irrational psychological quirks aside, is it really worth replacing an entirely new tank just to allay the fear of demonic maid possession in some residents who can’t get this ancient taboo out of their heads? Can’t we appreciate how fortunate we are just to have drinking tap water today, not to mention running water at all? Do you people have any idea how many millions are drinking water, when it’s even accessible, that others bathe, piss, shit and die in every single day? There’s a time and place for superstition and mumbo-jumbo, but to remove an otherwise perfectly functional water tank even after the formality of engaging priests to exorcise the spirits within is a sad, costly triumph of hysterical behaviour over scientific reason and our national efforts in water conservancy. I would suggest a psychological experiment here: Set up an identical but empty tank next to the possesed one. Convince the residents that the old one has been shut down, but continue to pump water from the old tank. Monitor the rates of people jumping off buildings, having unexplicable diarrhoea, or speaking Indonesian for no reason, for the next few weeks using the period prior to the tank switch as a baseline. Of course, check if Vikram is still OK whilst at it.
Kudos to ministers leading by example, though, a scene we haven’t witnessed since Goh Chok Tong gamely devoured NewWater in the early 2000s, which followed on with a trend of politicians putting things in their mouth to assure their people that their fears of contamination are unjustified. Most of us have duly gotten over the thought of drinking recycled water, but if the sales of bottled water is anything to go by, it suggests that a good proportion of purists still have an aversion towards the proverbial dead ant in a glass of water today.
Filed under: 2000s, 2011, Environment, Foreign workers, HDB, Politicians, Public works, Superstitions Tagged: | environment, Foreign workers, HDB, newwater, Politicians, Public works, SM Goh Chok Tong, Superstitions, vikram nair